DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Food, fun and fireworks are all a part of the 4th of July tradition. But each year, between June and late July, more than 7,000 adults and children go to the emergency room with fireworks-related injuries.
Many people believe there is less of a danger with some of the slow-burning or hand-held fireworks, but Parkland Burn Center manager Sue Vanek says that’s not true.
“We associate sparklers with the 4th of July and children, we associate them with weddings and so forth. But I think a lot of us don’t understand that fireworks, the temperature that they reach is actually above what it takes to melt glass.”
Basically sparklers are not safe for children, but Vanek says parents don’t need to beat themselves up for not knowing. “Even before I came to burns I was not aware of the dangers with sparklers. I think it’s just [about] educating the community.”
Experts with the American Pyrotechnics Association say parents should never give sparklers to children 5-years-old or younger. According to Vanek, sparklers and bottle rockets make up about 25-percent of emergency room visits among children and young adults between the ages of 15 and 24.
When it comes to injuries from sparklers and other fireworks burns are not all the same. “Generally when someone gets a burn injury let’s say from cooking those tend to be not as severe,” Vanek explained. “But because of the high, high temperatures related to fireworks those burn injuries are much deeper.”
While some superficial burns, like those resembling sunburn, can be treated at home, a great number of fireworks-related injuries require medical attention and sometimes painful treatment. Vanek says often patient’s injuries will, “…lead to a skin graph, most often hospitalization and surgery and subsequently a skin graph. It can lead to scarring and difficulty with function later on in life, especially when were talking about hands.”
In the one month surrounding the Independence Day holiday some 240 people seek medical assistance each day because of fireworks-related injuries. And Vanek says there’s a specific age group that is at a higher risk. “Children under the age of 15 years account for at least one-third of all of those injuries.”
Fireworks aren’t the only fire dangers during the summer. There are other dangers in your backyard and while on outdoor adventures. Vanek said, “With the holidays people love to get and barbecue. We do see quite a few burn-related injuries associated with grilling, especially also campfires. The coals burn down, you have embers, and the next morning you assume that those are already cool. A lot of times people will either fall into them or walk through them and not realize that those are still hot.”
The bottom line is adults should always think about safety first. And Vanek says it’s not a bad idea to leave the fireworks to the professionals. “They have fantastic shows and we should enjoy them!”
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