(WWJ) — We’ve heard warnings for years, but inevitably, people end up in the emergency room with burns to their hands or eyes — and sometimes even more serious injuries — every Fourth of July.
Beaumont Orthopedic specialist, Dr. Rachel Rohde, has treated many hand injuries caused by fireworks. Rohde said a little bit of common sense goes a long way in preventing fireworks injuries.
“Half of the injuries that we see from fireworks are to the hand, because they are things that people put in their hands,” Rohde said. “One suggestion would be to not hold any of these explosives in your hand when you’re lighting or even after you’ve lit it.”
Last year, there was a 50 percent increase in fireworks-related injuries — the biggest jump being in kids under the age of five.
Rohde said that the after-effects can often last a lifetime.
“Burns to the hand can be extremely problematic,” Rohde said. “A lot of these can need skin-grafting — some of them need therapy and different dressing changes. Sometimes they can cause problems that are permanent.”
Rohde said that it may be tempting to let kids and teens handle the fireworks themselves, but that parents should never be too careful.
“If you’re not old enough or not alert enough to drive a car, you probably shouldn’t be lighting the fireworks,” Rohde said. “Keep them away from children because even if you’re very alert and very careful, sometimes these malfunction and that’s not something that you can prevent.”
Fireworks safety experts say that when it comes to very young children, even sparklers are dangerous because they can burn at temperature up to 1200 degrees.
“We also see things with these explosives — broken bones, cuts and even sometimes, sadly, people lose body parts from this,” Rohde said. “It’s really a devastating problem to think that it could have been prevented — it’s heartbreaking.”
Ophthalmologists say that fireworks can cause eye damage in a couple of different ways. Sparks can cause injury in or around the eyes, or an explosion could propel something into your eyes.
Cleveland Clinic Ophthalmologist, Dr. Richard Gans, said that whether you’re watching a fireworks display or setting off your own, you can reduce the risk of an injury by wearing eye protection.
“You should really wear safety goggles that protect you not only from the brightness, but also from anything that could be propelled towards your eye,” Gans said.
If you suffer a fireworks-related injury that causes pain, blurred or double-vision or any changes your eyesight, make sure to see a doctor right away.