Amputations and Third-Degree Burns Can Result From Fireworks Accidents

The Amputee Coalition urges people to handle fireworks carefully, follow instructions and to make sure children are properly supervised when using fireworks this Fourth of July weekend. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in 2010, U.S. hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 8,600 people for fireworks-related injuries, up 1,600 from 2008. These injuries most often involve hands, fingers, eyes and legs, according to a press release

“Every year, after-the-fact, we hear the news reports about people losing fingers and portions of their hands to fireworks accidents,” Kendra Calhoun, Amputee Coalition president and chief executive officer, stated in a press release. “Fireworks are a traditional part of America’s celebration of Independence Day, but we want families to have fun this Fourth of July, and having fun means they avoid an unnecessary trip to the hospital emergency room. Legal consumer fireworks that comply with Consumer Product Safety Commission regulations can be relatively safe, but all fireworks are hazardous and can cause injury if proper safety measures are not followed.”

Even sparklers can cause serious burn injuries, burning as hot as 1,800 to 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on the type and the contents of fuel and oxider used. This is more than sufficient to cause severe burns or ignite clothing.

According to the Amputee Coalition, the best way to prevent losing a finger or part of your hand to a fireworks-related injury is to leave fireworks displays to the trained professionals. But for those who participate, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and the National Council on Fireworks Safety have issued these tips:

· Do not let children under 14 use fireworks;

· Supervise individuals under age 18;

· Only buy from reliable fireworks sellers. Read and follow all warnings and instructions. Use fireworks only as intended; don’t try to alter or combine them, and don’t experiment with homemade fireworks;

· Use fireworks outdoors only; keep them away from houses and flammable materials;

· Have a bucket of water nearby;

· Do not try to relight or handle malfunctioning fireworks. Soak them in water and throw them away;

· Be sure other people are a safe distance away before lighting fireworks;

· Never ignite fireworks in a container – especially a glass or metal one;

· Store fireworks in a cool, dry place according to their specific storage instructions;

· Do not wear loose clothing near a fire or while using fireworks;

· Rockets should be launched from a rocket launcher – not a bottle;

· Sparklers need to be handled carefully, too – they burn at 1,800 to 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Light them one at a time at arm’s length. Always wear gloves while holding a sparkler, and never give one to a child under 5 years of age. Don’t hold a child in your arms while using sparklers;

· Educate children (of all ages) about the dangers of fireworks and teach them to practice safety at all times; and

· Don’t mix alcohol and fireworks.

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