Community parades and hometown Independence Day celebrations are back in full swing following cancellations due to pandemic restrictions. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) is reminding Americans to celebrate safely and take caution when handling fireworks. From small-scale sparklers to larger firework displays, at-home safety measures are key to avoiding injuries to the hands, eyes and face.
“Backyard firework use lasts for a moment, yet related injuries can have long-term and sometimes devastating effects,” said Gregory G. Gallant, MD, FAAOS, orthopaedic hand surgeon and spokesperson for the AAOS. “Common fireworks, such as bottle rockets and hand sparklers, may seem tame, but the high temperatures of these devices can result in third-degree burns down to the bone or even loss of limbs. Other common injuries include fractures, traumatic amputations and soft tissue injuries. With a few simple precautions, you can stay safe this season.”
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), an estimated 15,600 people required emergency room treatment in U.S. hospitals due to accidents involving fireworks in 2020, up from approximately 10,000 in 2019. By comparison, the total number of injuries recorded just over a decade earlier – in 2008 – came to about 7,000. The CPSC 2020 Annual Firework Safety Report found that around 66% of all annual firework injuries occurred between June 21 and July 21, with firecrackers and sparklers the main culprits.
Stay safe this season by following some safety tips from the AAOS:
- Check with your local police department to determine if fireworks are legal in your area. If so, find out which types, and verify that there is not a burn ban in effect in your community that might create hazardous fire conditions.
- Never purchase or use illegal fireworks. Their quality cannot be assured.
- Only adults should light fireworks.
- Always have water close by 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 to prevent setting unintentional fires.
- 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. Some sparklers can reach temperatures of more than 1,000 degrees.
- Never handle fireworks if you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
For additional information about fingertip injuries and amputations, visit OrthoInfo.org.