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Published on May 01, 2011

Enjoy Fireworks This Summer, But Be Careful to Avoid Injuries

Fireworks are beautiful and exciting to watch. They can add that something special to any event. Professionally trained technicians should always handle fireworks in order to avoid hazardous or even deadly situations when handled by amateurs, especially children. 

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), more than 12,000 people are injured and treated in emergency rooms each year for fireworks injuries. That total is up from 8,500 in 2007. More than two-thirds of all fireworks related injuries occur between June 16 and July 16, and during that time one out of three people injured are children. 

“Young people under the age of 20 sustain nearly half of all related injuries. Most commonly, people are injured in their hands, eyes, head, face and ears,” says Linwood Haith, M.D., co-director of the Nathan Speare Regional Burn Treatment Center at Crozer-Chester Medical Center. The NFPA estimates that fires involving fireworks cause almost $21 million a year in property damage.

“Fireworks make an exciting addition to holiday enjoyment, but it is important to remember that even something as common as sparklers can lead to severe burns, especially in children. Sparklers account for 32 percent of emergency room fireworks injuries in 2008,” says Mary Lou Patton, M.D., F.A.C.S., F.I.C.S., F.S.S.O., F.C.C.M., co-director of the Nathan Speare Regional Burn Treatment Center at Crozer-Chester Medical Center.

“Sparklers are responsible for a large number of firework-related injuries and burns. It is mostly because of a parent or adult giving them to a young child. Children under the age of five lack the physical coordination to safely handle sparklers and they may not understand how dangerous one can be,” Haith says.

Patton adds, “Sparklers can get as hot as 1800 degrees Fahrenheit. The best way to understand how hot a sparkler can get is to know that water boils at 212 degrees, cakes cook at 400 degrees, wood burns at 575 degrees and glass melts at 900°F. It only takes 156°F to cause a third-degree burn.”

“Although sparklers are legal to buy and use, most families don’t understand that one third of related injuries to children are less than five years old,” says Gerarda Bozinko, burn outreach program coordinator. “It is devastating to see a family deal with a small child who has severe injuries from a sparkler. My best advice is to attend fireworks displays given by trained professionals and avoid buying fireworks for personal use.”

Bozinko coordinates the Burn Treatment Center’s community outreach efforts, which include providing a range of educational programs to area hospitals, schools, healthcare workers, seniors and more. Programs are available for children, including a re-entry program to schools for burn patients and a Fire setters program in conjunction with law enforcement agencies. For more information, contact Bozinko at (610) 447-2810.

For more tips on how to keep yourself and your family safe from fire and burns, visit the American Burn Association website at www.ameriburn.org

For more information about the Nathan Speare Regional Burn Treatment Center, visit http://crozerburn.crozer.org.

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