Don t turn celebration into tragedy: Enjoy fireworks safely!

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It s not the usual statistics we associate with Fourth of July celebrations: but it s important to know that in 2012 there were 18,700 firework-caused injuries, requiring over 7,000 emergency room visits, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). In addition, the CPSC notes that in 2011, 36 percent of such injuries occurred in individuals less than 20 years of age. Over half of the injuries were burns. Although sparklers are often considered to be child-friendly types of fireworks, in reality they can reach nearly 1,000 degrees when lit, and should never be used by unsupervised children.

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons published a list of actions to take to avoid risk of injury by fireworks:

Never buy or use illegal fireworks. Their quality cannot be assured.

Only adults should light fireworks.

Never hold lighted fireworks with your hand or place them near the body.

Always have water handy in case of a fire, such as a hose hooked to a faucet, or a nearby bucket of water.

Wear safety eyewear when using fireworks.

Soak used fireworks in water before discarding.

Never try to relight a firework.

If you are injured using fireworks, seek immediate medical attention.

Never allow young children to play with or go near fireworks, including sparklers. They seem harmless but sparklers can reach temperatures of more than 1,000 degrees.

Never handle fireworks if you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Dr. Tamara Rozental, AAOS spokesperson commented, If caution is not used, and safety guidelines are not adhered to, fireworks can cause serious injuries to the hands and fingers as well as the eyes."

ACSH publishes an annual editorial by Scientific Advisor and ophthalmologist Dr. Emil Chynn that warns about the dangers of fireworks. See his comments here.

Further, for those who are celebrating at the beach, a reminder to be careful with spray-on sunscreens--they too are flammable, so don t spray near an open flame.

Have a great fourth of July weekend.