AKRON, Ohio — The number of firework-related injuries has steadily risen over the last 15 years. At least nine people died and 11,500 were injured in fireworks-related accidents last year, according to the. U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
In response, doctors here in Northeast Ohio are warning people to be careful handling any recreational fireworks.
Dr. Anjay Khandelwal, director of Akron Children’s Hospital’s burn institute, tells News 5 that 25% to 30% of all fireworks-related injuries involve the eyes and face while another 25% to 30% involve the hands. While most injuries tend to be minor, like scratches or cuts, there are severe cases that cause concern every year.
“We could see anywhere between ten and 20 fireworks-related [injuries],” Khandelwal said. “Many of these injuries are actually not quite as severe.”
While about 50% of fireworks injuries happen to bystanders, kids are usually the most impacted.
“Children represent about 30% to 40% of all firework-related injuries,” Khandelwal said. “Interestingly enough, the number of those injuries in the pediatric age group or the children will involve sparklers, and sparklers can get very hot.”
Many local hospitals and emergency rooms will handle these cases, but the burn institute isn’t excluded from receiving patients injured in firework accidents.
“We will see some patients with some much more severe injuries,” Khandelwal said. “These can be larger burns, sometimes secondary to clothing, catching on fire or handling fireworks where they explode or cause significant burns over the hand or other parts of the body.”
In some cases, the injuries can be life-threatening. Khandelwal stressed the importance of knowing what to look out for and when to see a doctor.
If you are burned at home, you should run the area under cool water, but make sure it’s not ice-cold, warm or hot. You should also gently wash the area with soap.
“If the injury just kind of looks like a simple sunburn, you probably don't necessarily need to seek medical attention right away,” Khandelwal said. “If it does blister, you probably need to go to an urgent care or an emergency department.”
Things to also keep in mind this Fourth of July:
- Never light fireworks under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Have a bucket of water or fire extinguisher nearby
- Always light fireworks in an open space
- Never use any expired or non-certified fireworks
Remember to also be extra cautious while using sparklers. Sparklers may seem like a harmless alternative to fireworks, but they burn hot. Although a single stray spark is unlikely to hurt you, sparklers burn at 1,800-3,000 degrees Fahrenheit, which is hot enough to cause a third-degree burn.
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