Enjoy The Show ... From a Safe Distance

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record

In a flash, about 9,000 Americans will be injured by fireworks while enjoying one of the traditions of Fourth of July celebrations.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, about 60 percent of those injuries are sustained between June 22 and July 22. More than half of the injuries in 2012 involved burns to the hands, head and face. Six people, all men, died from injuries sustained using fireworks.

Andrea Bladel, R.N., BSN and Trauma Nurse Coordinator for Genesis Medical Center, East Rusholme Street, Davenport, said the best way to avoid a trip to the emergency department is to leave fireworks displays to the professionals.

Again this year, Genesis Health System is sponsoring the spectacular Red, White and Boom! fireworks display on Wednesday, July 3. The show will be bigger and brighter than ever before.

“The professional fireworks displays are safer, bigger and better than anything we can do in our backyards,’’ Bladel said. “Even sparklers, which are one of the few legal devices to use in Iowa and Illinois, burn at 1,800 degrees (Fahrenheit) and can be dangerous. Used improperly, they can cause burns and burn clothing.”

In fact, one of the six deaths in 2012 involving fireworks was an Arkansas 17-year-old who ignited 300 sparklers taped together.

“If kids use sparklers, we urge close parental supervision and urge kids to stay in one place and not run with sparklers,’’ Bladel added.

Sparklers account for about one third of the total fireworks-related injuries seen in emergency departments each year. More than half of the injuries sustained by children younger than 5 years old are related to lighting sparklers.

Firecrackers, illegal for use in Iowa and Illinois, account for about 26 percent of injuries.

Bladel said that people in the Quad Cities are listening to the messages about fireworks safety. Genesis Medical Center has had no hospital admissions related to fireworks injuries in recent years. There is a similar trend of fewer fireworks injuries being reported across the country.

“Fireworks accidents happen, however, we have fewer injuries locally than in many other areas,’’ Bladel said. “I think this is due, in part, because of the high quality of our local professional fireworks displays.

“Thousands of people in the Quad Cities attend these public shows and these shows have safety records that are outstanding. Most injuries locally occur when people use fireworks at home.’’

Bladel said the most disturbing statistic is that young people have the highest injury rates.

“A child will tell parents, ‘I can do it myself, I don’t need help.’ Often the child can’t do it themselves and there are injuries,’’ Bladel said. “Those injuries can be severe.

“One of the reasons we continue to see fireworks injuries, some of them severe or fatal, is that people don’t recognize how dangerous these devices can be. Children often lack the physical coordination to handle any

fireworks safely. Even with a sparkler, they can fall and suffer burns.’’

Here are recommendations to prevent fireworks injuries at home:

Do not allow young children to play with fireworks under any circumstances

Older children should only be permitted to use legal fireworks under close, adult supervision

Light fireworks outdoors in areas clear of houses, dry leaves, grass or flammable materials

Do not smoke while handling fireworks

Have water available nearby for emergencies

Ignite fireworks only smooth, flat surfaces

Be sure people are out of range before lighting fireworks

Never have any portion of your body directly over a firework while lighting

Don’t experiment with homemade fireworks

Do not try to relight “duds’’

Don’t place fireworks in containers before lighting

Alcohol and fireworks are a dangerous combination