AUGUSTA — Independence Day is celebrated across the U.S. each year with spectacular public fireworks displays, as well as smaller private ones. Each carries a potential for personal injury.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, in 2005 U.S. emergency rooms treated an estimated 10,800 people for fireworks-related injuries. Last year, the Joseph M. Still Burn Center at Doctors Hospital treated 22 patients for injuries from during July 4th festivities.
“Of the 22 patients we treated, 11 were directly related to fireworks. Those patients were treated with injuries to the hands, face and upper chest, said Dr. Fred Mullins, medical director of the Joseph M. Still Burn Center. “The other 11 patients were burned in accidents involving campfires, including one who stepped in hot embers, and barbecuing on gas and charcoal grills.”
Dr. Mullins advises that you exercise good judgment in preventing injuries when possible, and by being prepared to respond should an accident occur.
“Do not allow young children to play with fireworks under any circumstances. Sparklers, considered by many the ideal ‘safe’ firework for the young, burn at very high temperatures and can easily ignite clothing. Children cannot understand the danger involved and cannot act appropriately in case of emergency,” he said.
Other safety tips include:
• The best way to enjoy fireworks is to visit public fireworks displays put on by professionals who know how to safely handle fireworks.
• Never light fireworks indoors or near dry grass. Always have a bucket of water and/or a fire extinguisher nearby. Know how to operate the fire extinguisher properly.
• Do not wear loose clothing while using fireworks.
• Stand several feet away from lit fireworks. If a device does not go off, do not stand over it to investigate it. Put it out with water and dispose of it.
• Always read the directions and warning labels on fireworks. If a device is not marked with the contents, directions and a warning label, do not light it.
• Supervise children around fireworks at all times.
• Before using a grill, check the connection between the propane tank and the fuel line. Make sure the venturi tubes — where the air and gas mix — are not blocked.
• Do not overfill the propane tank.
• Do not wear loose clothing while cooking at a barbecue.
• Be careful when using lighter fluid. Do not add fluid to an already lit fire because the flames can flashback up into the container and explode.
• Keep all matches and lighters away from children. Teach your children to report any loose matches or lighters to an adult immediately. Supervise children around outdoor grills.
• Dispose of hot coals properly - douse them with plenty of water, and stir them to ensure that the fire is out. Never place them in plastic, paper or wooden containers.
• Never grill/barbecue in enclosed areas - carbon monoxide could be produced.
• Make sure everyone knows to Stop, Drop and Roll in case a piece of clothing does catch fire. Call 911 or your local emergency number if a burn warrants serious medical attention.