Riley Trauma Doctor Promotes Fireworks Safety

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Fireworks Safety

Adults need to remember that there are no safe fireworks and improper use can result in serious injuries.

The Fourth of July traditionally brings together families and communities through festive parades, cookouts and, of course, extravagant firework displays to celebrate the birth of our nation and the beginning of the summer.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), more than 70 percent of all injuries related to fireworks occur during the Fourth of July holiday and more than half of those injured are young children and teens. In 2004, the most recent data available, the Indiana State Department of Health reported 494 unduplicated cases of firework-related injury.

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The most common type of injuries are burns to the hands, most likely caused from holding a firework as it explodes. Other common injuries are eye injuries, in which the handler or bystanders do not wear any eye protection.

"Every year, I treat children with burns, as well as other hand and eye injuries resulting from fireworks," says Tres Scherer, MD, director of pediatric trauma services, Riley Hospital for Children. "Some of the more serious injuries are from commonly used items such as sparklers, Roman candles, and firecrackers."

The CPSC has developed specific regulations designed to help prevent injuries and death from fireworks. Fireworks sold to consumers for personal use must provide a label illustrating the hazard, such as "EMITS SPARKS," along with a capitalized "WARNING" or "CAUTION" label. Those materials not abiding by the Commission regulations clearly stated on their Web site, www.cpsc.gov, are banned from sale and production. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommend banning the sale of fireworks to the retail (amateur) consumer.

"Fireworks can be captivating, but parents need to be knowledgeable of the high risks of fireworks injury and exercise extreme caution as an amateur handler of fireworks," says Scherer. "Children should never be involved in these activities."

Fireworks Safety Tips

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