Hospitals Treat Increase in Fireworks Injuries

Hospitals Treat Increase in Fireworks Injuries

02 July 2010

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USA — While consumers are gearing up for a relaxing holiday weekend, emergency rooms across the country are bracing themselves for the busy season in fireworks-related injuries like burns and eye damage.

Last year, hospital emergency rooms in the United States treated an estimated 8,800 fireworks-related injuries compared to 7,000 such injuries in 2008, according to a report published this week by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The report covers injuries sustained by civilians — bystanders as well as amateurs who set off their own bottle rockets, firecrackers, and the like — not occupational injuries to professional fireworks experts.

In 2009, nearly 70 percent — or about 5,900 — of the consumer injuries occurred during the “high season” of fireworks, from June 19 to July 19, the report said. During that season, about 1,200 injuries treated in emergency rooms were attributed to firecrackers, while sparklers accounted for 1,000 injuries, rockets for 400 injuries and Roman candles 200, according to the agency.

Among the report’s findings: More than half the injuries were among young people under 20; boys and men suffered 73 percent of all injuries; hands, fingers and eyes were most frequently injured. Among those hurt last year, two people died from setting off mortar shells.

The commission posted a video on its Web site in which officials blow up watermelons and mannequins to illustrate the dangers of amateur fireworks, particularly the use of illegal devices. Those who wish to see the explosions and skip the cautionary lecture may fast forward to 2 minutes, 43 seconds. But please don’t try these stunts at home.

Although federal regulations prohibit consumers from using certain large explosives, smaller legal devices accounted for five out of six fireworks-related injuries treated in emergency rooms in 2008, according to a new report from the National Fire Protection Association, a nonprofit group in Quincy, Mass., which works to reduce the incidence of fires.

Fireworks are also responsible for thousands of grass fires, brush fires and dumpster fires every year, said the report which covers fireworks-related problems in 2008. Fireworks started an estimated 22,500 fires in 2008, resulting in one death, 40 injuries and $42 million in property damage, the report said.

“Fireworks during the Fourth of July are as American as apple pie,” the report said. “But did you know that more fires are reported on that day than any other day of the year in the United States?”

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