Pennsylvania Emergency Physicians Caution against Fireworks Hazards

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Most everyone enjoys a dazzling fireworks display on the Fourth of July. Cities and towns across Pennsylvania host pyrotechnical shows each year. But no one enjoys the burns and other injuries that can result from being too close to the spectacle or mishandling a firecracker. “You can’t be too careful around fireworks,” says Dr. Michael Bohrn, President, Pennsylvania Chapter, American College of Emergency Physicians (PaACEP.) “Emergency professionals see more firework-related injuries around the Fourth of July than people would like to believe.”

Emergency departments in Pennsylvania treat thousands of fireworks-related injuries each year, many of which occur among children under 15. Most injuries involve burns, but others include damage to eyes, head, face and ears. Notable fireworks-related incidents in Pennsylvania include a mishap in Palmyra in 2010 and another near New Castle in 2013. In both of these cases, young people sustained serious burns and other injuries.

People also like to experiment with fireworks at their homes. However, even if fireworks are legal in your community, PaACEP strongly suggests you do not use them at your home. If you do use fireworks, however, these do’s and don’ts will help make your Fourth of July display a safer experience:

Do:

  • Read warning labels and follow all instructions
  • Keep a bucket of water or fire extinguisher on hand
  • Light fireworks one at a time, and
  • Dispose of all fireworks properly.

Don’t:

  • Give any fireworks, including sparklers, to small children; older children should be supervised by an adult
  • Light fireworks indoors or near other objects
  • Wear loose clothing while using any fireworks
  • Set off fireworks in glass or metal containers; the fragments can cause severe injury, or
  • Try to relight or handle malfunctioning fireworks.

“We don’t want to see you in the emergency department this Fourth of July, but rest assured, Pennsylvania’s emergency physicians and other emergency healthcare providers are there for you 24/7 if you need emergency care.” said Dr. Bohrn. “Enjoy the show from a safe distance and let professionals handle the fireworks.”

The Pennsylvania Chapter, American College of Emergency Physicians (PaACEP) is a state chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP), a medical society that has represented physicians specializing in emergency medicine since 1971. PaACEP is committed to advancing emergency care through continuing education, research, and public education.

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