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University of Missouri Health Care News Releases
Protecting yourself from fireworks injuries: Burn specialists offer safety tips

June 29, 2010                                                                            Contact: Matt Splett
                                                                                                      Media Coordinator
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                    (573) 882-5663

COLUMBIA, Mo. — Fireworks are a Fourth of July tradition in Missouri, but so are fireworks injuries. Burn specialists at University of Missouri Health Care treat all sorts of fireworks-related injuries during the summertime holiday.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that an estimated 7,000 American were treated for fireworks-related injuries in hospital emergency rooms in 2008. More than half of those injured were children and young adults under the age of 20.

“Fireworks are especially dangerous for young children,” said Nicholas Meyer, M.D., a fellowship-trained burn surgeon at the George D. Peak Memorial Burn and Wound Center at University Hospital. “We care for far more children injured by fireworks than adults.”

Meyer cites metal sparklers as one of the most dangerous fireworks for kids. These sparklers burn very hot and reach temperatures of more than 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Often sparkler injuries result in severe burns to the hands and arms.

“You can never predict when an accident may happen,” said Meyer. “The burns we treat from fireworks injuries can cause serious, lifelong disability.”

Meyer says fireworks are best enjoyed at public demonstrations. These shows are run by professionally trained staff with experience in running fireworks displays. The display organizers make sure that spectators remain far away from the fireworks ignition point, yet close enough to enjoy the show.

Despite the advice, many Missourians will choose to ignite fireworks on their own. Meyer offers these safety guidelines when lighting fireworks.
• Never give fireworks to children.
• Read and follow all warnings and instructions.
• At least one adult should supervise the use of fireworks.
• Wear protective eyewear.
• Only use fireworks outdoors.
• Light fireworks on a smooth, flat surface away from houses, dry leaves and trees.
• Light fireworks one at a time, and keep a safe distance.
• Use punk sticks to light fireworks.
• Never have any part of your body over fireworks.
• Never light fireworks in your hand.
• Always have water hose or bucket of water nearby.

Should you suffer a fireworks burn injury, cool the burn with cold water, not ice or ice water. Clean the area and cover the burn. If the burn is larger than the size of your palm, if you experience discomfort or pain in caring for the burn, or if the burn occurs on the hands, feet or face, call University Hospital’s George D. Peak Memorial Burn and Wound Center at (573) 882-2876.

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