Published on June 29, 2015

Enjoy The Show ... From a Safe Distance

In a flash, about 10,000 Americans  will be injured by fireworks while enjoying one of the traditions of Fourth of July celebrations. In 2014, eleven Americans died in fireworks-related incidents.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, about 60 percent of those injuries are sustained between June 22 and July 22.

David Dierks, D.O., emergency department physician, 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 Saturday, July 4. The show will be bigger and brighter than ever before with more than two tons of fireworks shot from two barges in the Mississippi River.

Prime viewing locations will be Schwiebert Park in Rock Island, the Genesis Family Viewing Area in LeClaire Park in Davenport and Modern Woodmen Park in Davenport.

“The professional fireworks displays are safer, bigger and better than anything we can do in our backyards,’’ Dr. Dierks said.  “Even sparklers burn at 1,800 degrees (Fahrenheit) and can be dangerous.  Used improperly, they can cause burns and burn clothing.

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

Sparklers account for 19 percent of the total fireworks-related injuries seen in emergency departments each year.  About one-quarter of all fireworks-related injuries are sustained by children nine years old and younger.

Firecrackers, illegal for use in Iowa and Illinois, account for about 20 percent of injuries.

Dierks said that people in the Quad Cities are listening to the messages about fireworks safety.  Genesis Medical Center has had very few 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,’’ Dierks 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 happen when people use fireworks at home.’’

Dierks said the most disturbing statistic is that children under age 15 account for about 35 percent of the injuries.

“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,’’ Dierks 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 from Genesis and from the U.S. Consumer Produc Safety Commission to prevent fireworks injuries at home:

• Make sure the fireworks you want to buy are legal in your area before buying or using them.

• Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks, including sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 1,800 degrees─hot enough to melt some metals.

• Do not buy fireworks that are packaged in brown paper, which is often a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays.

• 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 other mishap.

• Never try to relight or handle malfunctioning fireworks. Soak them with water and throw them away.

• Never point or throw fireworks at another person.

• Light fireworks one at a time, then move away from them quickly.

• After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding the device to prevent a trash fire.

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

• Do not smoke while handling fireworks.

• Ignite fireworks only smooth, flat surfaces.

• Don’t place fireworks in containers before lighting.

• Alcohol and fireworks are a dangerous combination.


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