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As Fourth of July approaches, hand surgeons urge caution with fireworks

Fourth of July fireworks
Photo: nd3000/iStockphoto

Chicago — “All fireworks are inherently dangerous.” That’s the message the American Society for Surgery of the Hand is urging people to keep in mind this Fourth of July.

In a position statement released June 4, ASSH notes that fireworks “pose unique and significant challenges due to burns and blast injuries that may result in visible, extensive scarring,” adding that “firework injuries are responsible for soft tissue and bone damage that may require amputations, multiple surgeries and hospitalizations.”

Even sparklers, which many people consider safe, can quickly injure a child because they can get hotter than 1,000° F.

To avoid fireworks-related injuries, ASSH recommends explosive materials be handled only by pyrotechnics professionals. But if you choose to purchase your own fireworks, the society offers the following precautions:

  • Wear personal protective equipment, including eye protection.
  • Warn others nearby that fireworks are going to be used, and ensure spectators are in a safe area before lighting them.
  • Refrain from using drugs or alcohol if you are going to be shooting off fireworks.

“As a young child, I clearly remember asking my mother to buy fireworks for the Fourth of July,” hand surgeon Steven H. Goldberg said in a June 15 press release. “She told me about her childhood classmate who lost an eye due to a firework injury and told me ‘no.’ Now, as a hand surgeon, I’ve had to treat multiple patients with injuries so severe that their fingers required amputation or were already missing. … In a split second, their hand, their life, their employment is changed forever. Listen to my mom and say ‘no’ to the personal use of fireworks this summer.”

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 11,000 fireworks-related injuries occurred in 2016.

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