Firework injuries flood MED every Fourth of July - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Firework injuries flood MED every Fourth of July

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) -

Fireworks are illegal to fire off in Shelby County but some people break that rule every year. And every year this time the Regional Medical Center says they see people coming in with firework injuries.

"We realize this time of year people are going to see fireworks, they're going to use them… Our suggestion is leave it to the pros," says Dr. Bill Hickerson, Medical Director of the Regional Medical Center's Firefighter's Regional Burn Unit.

From third-degree burns, hand injuries and loss of vision, doctors at the MED's Firefighter's Regional Burn Center say they see it a lot during the Fourth of July weekend and all from fireworks. Bystanders are no exception to firework injuries.

"A bottle rocket or something else that goes off ends up in their lap, hitting them in the face," says Hickerson, "One was where the bottle rocket didn't quite go off like they thought it should, so they leaned over to look, went down in his shirt, caught the shirt on fire … There's all sorts of things that go on."

Sparklers seem harmless and are often considered a safer alternative to fireworks by parents. Hickerson says one sparkler can heat up enough to burn metal.

"Everyone thinks those sparklers are so cute, but unfortunately they're 1,200-degrees, and a child touches that and that's a third-degree burn," he says, "If you put three sparklers together, it's the same as a blow torch."

Overall the MED's Burn Center highly encourages people to leave the fireworks to the professionals who are trained on how to handle fireworks. For individuals who insist on using fireworks themselves, the Burn Center offers the following tips for preventing firework injuries:

  • First and foremost, if fireworks are illegal where you live, do not purchase or use them.
  • Always have an adult supervise firework activities, and never allow children under 12 to play with or ignite fireworks.
  • Use common sense.  Alcohol and fireworks do not mix. Use a "designated shooter" for the safety of everyone present.
  • Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.
  • Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or mishap. Never try to relight or handle a malfunctioning firework. Douse and soak with water, and then dispose of it properly.
  • Never give a lighted sparkler to another person. Also, never throw, wave or run with sparklers. 

Nationwide in 2012, Hickerson says there were nearly 10,000 firework-related injuries, including children.

At the MED, he says their number in 2012 was down to about five patients on the Fourth of July. Hickerson says they are well equipped at the MED's Burn Center to treat those injured by fireworks but hope they don't have to treat anyone for it this year.

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