COLUMBIA, Mo. — Fireworks are a Fourth of July tradition in Missouri, but so are fireworks injuries. From burns to hand and eye injuries, specialists at University of Missouri Health Care treat all sorts of fireworks-related injuries during the summertime holiday.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that an estimated 9,000 Americans are injured every year in fireworks accidents. More than half of all injuries are burns.
“Fireworks can be very dangerous, especially for young children,” said James Kraatz, burn surgeon at University Hospital and director of the George David Peak Memorial Burn and Wound Center. “You can never predict when an accident may happen. The burns we treat from fireworks injuries can cause serious, lifelong disability.”
Kraatz says fireworks are best enjoyed at public demonstrations. These shows are run by professionally trained staff with experience in running fireworks displays. The display organizers make sure that spectators remain far away from the fireworks ignition point, yet close enough to enjoy the show.
Despite the advice, many Missourians will choose to ignite fireworks on their own. Kraatz offers these safety guidelines when lighting fireworks.
• Never give fireworks to children.
• At least one adult should supervise the use of fireworks.
• Wear protective eyewear.
• Only use fireworks outdoors.
• Follow instructions. Never experiment or make your own fireworks.
• Light fireworks on a flat surface away from houses, dry leaves and trees.
• Light fireworks one at a time and keep a safe distance.
• Use punk sticks to light fireworks.
• Never have any part of your body over fireworks.
• Never light fireworks in your hand.
• Always have water hose nearby.
Should you suffer a fireworks burn injury, cool the burn with cold water, not ice or ice water. Clean the area and cover the burn. If the burn is larger than the size of your palm, if you experience discomfort or pain in caring for the burn or if the burn occurs on the hands, feet or face, call University Hospital’s burn and wound center at (573) 882-2876.
James Kraatz, M.D., University Hospital burn surgeon
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