Independence Day fireworks come with big show, big dangers - KMSP-TV

Independence Day fireworks come with big show, big dangers

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ATLANTA, Ga. -

Each Independence Day, about 7,000 Americans end up in the emergency room with firework-related injuries.

Memorial Hospital Burn Unit Director Dr. Walter Ingram sees it every year at this time. People start lighting fireworks, and the burn patients start coming in. Dr. Ingram says, “Every Fourth of July, you get about ten or twelve calls at night, people or children getting hurt."

14-year old Lauren Davis was burned in an Easter kitchen accident. Dr. Ingram says, unlike her second and third-degree burns, most firework burns aren't usually severe, but they can cause both hand and facial injuries.

Dr. Ingram says, “Sparklers can cause a deep burn, but it's usually small. Sparklers are a magnesium fire. Very hot. Very hard to put out. Can cause a very deep burn. But it's usually small." Small, and sometimes, pretty painful. Ingram says, “They're usually not life-threatening. You've got to make sure you keep them (fireworks) far away from your eyes, because they can be eye-threatening."

And kids - especially teens and tweens – can take big risks. He says, “Children sometimes take their fireworks and put a bunch of them together. Put some shrapnel around it like a little bomb! They do things like this! We see it!”

He says, “Teach them basic respect for the fire. Some of the children, teenagers, have this idea their indestructible. And they're not.”

Some safety tips:

  • Never let children near fireworks
  • Have a garden hose or bucket of water nearby.
  • Light only one firework at a time
  • Never re-light a "dud" firework.

If someone gets burned, Ingram says make sure you get them away from the fire or danger, to keep things from getting worse.

He says, “Then use tap water, cool water, not ice! Ice is too cold, use cool water."

If the burn is small, treat it with a topical antibiotic, and if you don't have that, use honey. Dr. Ingram says forget about home remedies like putting butter on a burn. He says, “You don't want to put anything on a burn that spoils in the open. So, things like butter or mayonnaise, that stuff spoils. When it spoils, bacteria grows in it, that's the whole point. That will cause the burn to be infected.”

Sparklers and non-exploding fireworks like Roman candles are legal in Georgia. To enjoy fireworks without ending up in the ER, Dr. Ingram says leave the show to the professionals.

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