Study: Shells, mortars cause most severe fireworks injuries

Shell-and-mortar fireworks, which include sphere-shaped aerial explosives designed to be manually thrown or launched from a tube, were responsible for nearly 40% of fireworks-related injuries resulting in hospitalization, according to a study published in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine.

The researchers, from the University of Washington School of Medicine Harborview Medical Center, noted in a press release that an estimated 10,500 people are treated in emergency departments every year for fireworks-related injuries. However, there is little data on severe injuries that require hospital admission.

“We treated about 30 patients for hand injuries requiring surgery at Harborview along during the July 4th weekend last year,” Brinkley Sandvall, MD, a plastic surgery resident at UW Medicine and lead author of the study, said in a press release.

The researches reviewed the cases of 294 patients admitted to Harborview Medical Center for severe fireworks injuries between 2005 and 2015. Males made up 90% of the patients and the mean age was 24 years.

According to the release, children made up the majority of injuries by rockets, with 44%. The majority of injuries to teenagers came from homemade fireworks, with 34%.

The researchers said, in many cases, fireworks injuries required multiple surgeries and caused permanent impairment, such as limb amputation or vision loss. They recommended the use of fireworks should be left to professionals.


Disclosure: The researchers report support from the University of Washington School of Medicine Departments of Surgery, Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine; the University of Washington School of Public Health Division of plastic surgery and the Department of Epidemiology; and the Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center.

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