Focus on Fireworks Safety this Fourth of July Weekend

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Greenwich, CT – With the long July 4th holiday weekend comes the threat of fireworks-related injuries that can bring children and adults to the Emergency Department.

"Fireworks are an important part of many July 4th celebrations. But fireworks can be dangerous and potentially deadly unless you take safety precautions," said Christopher Davison, MD, medical director of Greenwich Hospital's Emergency Department. "If an injury does occur, seek medical attention immediately. Treating the injury yourself could make things worse."

With an eye injury, Dr. Davison advises patients not to touch, rub, flush out or apply ointment to avoid further damage. Instead, cut out the bottom of a paper cup, place it around the eye and immediately seek medical attention. If it's a burn, remove clothing from the burned area and run cool (not cold) water over the burn (do not use ice). Then head to the Emergency Department.

On a national level, an average of 200 people visit the Emergency Department every day from fireworks-related injuries in the month around Independence Day, according to a 2011 Consumer Product Safety Commission survey. Illegal and homemade fireworks were involved in all four deaths reported to the commission.

More than half the injuries were burns with hands and fingers (46 percent) the most injured body parts followed by eyes (17 percent), heads, faces, and ears (17 percent), legs (11 percent), trunk (5 percent) and arms (4 percent). Youth age 19 and under accounted for 36 percent of those injured; 40 percent were 24 to 44 years old. Sixty-eight percent of the injured were men.

Greenwich Hospital's Emergency Department offers these fireworks safety tips:

  • Never make your own fireworks. Buy only legal fireworks featuring a label with the manufacturer's name and directions and store them in a cool, dry place. Illegal fireworks are unlabeled and usually go by the names M-80, M100, blockbuster or quarter pounder. Although banned in 1966, these explosives still account for many firework injuries.
  • Children should never play with fireworks. Even sparklers can reach 1,800 degrees F (982 degrees C) – hot enough to melt gold.
  • Always use fireworks outside and have a bucket of water and a hose nearby in case of accidents. Point fireworks away from homes, brush, leaves and flammable substances. The National Fire Protection estimates that local fire departments respond to more than 50,000 fires caused by fireworks each year.
  • Light one firework at a time (not in glass or metal containers) and never relight a dud.
  • Don't allow kids to pick up pieces of fireworks after an event because some may still be ignited and explode.
  • Soak all fireworks in a bucket of water before throwing them in a trashcan.
  • Protect pets that have sensitive ears and can get extremely frightened or stressed by fireworks. Keep pets indoors to reduce the risk they run loose or get injured.

Greenwich Hospital is a member of Yale New Haven Health. Greenwich is a 206-bed (includes 32 isolettes) community hospital serving lower Fairfield County, Connecticut and Westchester County, New York. It is a academic affiliate of Yale School of Medicine. Since opening in 1903, Greenwich Hospital has evolved into a progressive medical center and teaching institution representing all medical specialties and offering a wide range of medical, surgical, diagnostic and wellness programs. Greenwich Hospital is recognized throughout the healthcare industry as a leader in service and patient satisfaction excellence. Greenwich Hospital has the prestigious Magnet designation from the American Nurses Credentialing Center, the nation’s highest honor of nursing excellence.