Permanent scarring, loss of vision, dismemberment – these are too often the harsh realities of amateur fireworks use. To keep the public safe from fireworks-related injuries and deaths, you should treat fireworks, whether legal or illegal for consumers, as suitable only for use by trained professionals.
According to the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA), amateur fireworks use endangers not only the users, but also bystanders and surrounding property and structures. Pyrotechnic devices ranging from sparklers to aerial rockets cause thousands of fires and serious injuries each year.
There is no such thing as safe fireworks. The power and danger of fireworks should not be underestimated.
In recent years, fireworks have been one of the leading causes of injuries serious enough to require hospital emergency room treatment. Fireworks can result in severe burns, fractures, scars or even disfigurement or death. The thousands of serious injuries each year typically harm the eyes, head or hands. Even sparklers, which are considered by many to be harmless, reach temperatures of more than 1,000°F.
In the hands of amateurs, fireworks are especially dangerous. Fireworks are unpredictable and can lead to catastrophe, causing injury, permanent scarring, or even death.
Wooded areas, homes, and even automobiles have become engulfed in flames because of fireworks. Fireworks-related fires have typically caused at least $20 million in property loss each year. A substantial portion of the structure fire property loss due to fireworks typically involves bottle rockets or other fireworks rockets. These can land on rooftops, wedge within certain structures and retain enough heat to cause a fire.
For most people, family and home represent security and safety, a haven to share our hopes, dreams, and struggles. Imagine risking all of that for a few seconds of entertainment. It’s not worth it. Avoid fireworks injuries and damage by playing it safe. There are safer alternatives to using fireworks on the Fourth of July or at any other time.
Public fireworks displays are one of those alternatives. Conducted by trained professionals, these displays are the smartest and safest fireworks alternative for anyone because they are established under controlled settings and regulations. After these displays, or any other time, children should never pick up fireworks that may be left over. Fireworks that have been ignited and fail to immediately explode or discharge can cause injury because they may still be active. Children should always tell an adult if they find fireworks rather than picking up smoking or charred fireworks themselves, which is just too risky.
Prevent injuries by avoiding amateur use of fireworks. Should you fail to heed this sage advice and find yourself injured, first aid treatment for burns includes cooling in tepid water and seeking medical treatment. Never put butter or other “goo” on a burn. Apply direct pressure to blast injuries that result in bleeding. Call 911 for emergency medical assistance.
Above all, have an injury free Independence Day.
(Howard Walth, RN, CEN, CFRN, CCRN, TCRN, LNCC, NRP is the Trauma Coordinator and ATLS & TNCC Coordinator at CHI St. Alexius Health.)