July Fourth is just days and away, and you know what that means:
That’s right — the weekend will be full of ample opportunity to enjoy fireworks displays. But if you’re planning to enjoy the festivities, medical experts urge caution. According to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commision, about 8,600 fireworks-related injuries happened in 2010. Of those, about 30 percent were injuries to the hands and fingers and about 21 percent were injuries to the eyes.
Dr. Seth Althoff, attending physician for the Bridgeport Hospital emergency room, said the hospital sees a handful of patients come in with fireworks-linked injuries every July Fourth weekend. ”There’s always a couple of incidents,” he said. “I think, in general, people do a pretty good job of being cautious, but there’s always going to be accidents.”
And most incidents, Althoff said, can be avoided with some good common sense. First, non-professionals should never set off fireworks themselves. Not only is it dangerous, it’s illegal. In Connecticut, nearly all fireworks are illegal, with the exception of sparklers, which contain less than 100 grams of pyrotechnic mixture. Even sparklers can only be used by those aged 16 and older. For information on the state laws, check out this release on the Connecticut State Police web site.
Aside from obeying the law, here are some more tips for preventing fireworks injuries, from American Medical Response, Inc.
- Always keep a safe distance from fireworks staging areas.
- If you are a fireworks operator, protect your eyes by wearing safety glasses or gaggles. Wearing prescription eyeglasses, sunglasses or contact lenses provides little or no protection against fireworks-induced eye injuries
- If you do plan to use the legal-in-Connecticut sparklers, collect all burned-out sparkler wires for proper disposal. Sparklers stay hot long after burning out.
- Keep younger children away from all fireworks. Older children must be supervised.
- Never extend any part of the body over lit fireworks (Editor’s note: Really? Do people actually need to be told that?)
- Never point or throw fireworks at a person (Again — do people truly not know that? I weep for the state of the world)
- Keep water and a first aid kit nearby for emergencies
- If you do incur an eye injury, do not touch, rub or press the injured eye. Take the victim to a local emergency room or call 9-1-1 for help.
- In case of burn injuries, cover the affected area with a dry dressing and, if necessary, call 9-1-1 or take the victim to the emergency room.
And remember — we all work too hard for our holiday weekends to spend any portion of them in the hospital, so be safe!