As the Fourth of July holiday approaches, doctors across the U.S. see a spike in the number of burns and blast injuries caused by fireworks.
This year, the American Society for Surgery of the Hand (ASSH) is reaching out to the public with a reminder about the devastating injuries fireworks can cause, most commonly to the hands.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), more than 11,000 firework injuries occurred in 2016. Hands and fingers accounted for one-third of the firework-related injuries, with the head and face being the second most common part of the body injured.
“In people of all ages, a firework injury to the upper extremity can have functional, economic, and psychological impact that is often underestimated,” the ASSH said.
Burns and blast injuries caused by fireworks pose unique and significant challenges, the ASSH said. In addition to visible, extensive scarring, fireworks are responsible for soft tissue and bone damage that may require amputations, multiple surgeries, and hospitalizations.
Surprisingly, children younger than 9 accounted for nearly a quarter of all firework injuries. This may be largely attributed the idea that sparklers are child-friendly and safe when, in fact, they burn at temperatures exceeding 1,000 degrees F. And it’s not only those using the fireworks that get injured; onlookers and bystanders also account for many fireworks-related burn and blast injuries every year.
“The impact of a firework injury on a person’s life can be profound, particularly when involving a hand or finger injury,” the ASSH said. “Employment is frequently negatively affected after a firework injury [and the] economic impacts of firework injuries are seen both at the personal and societal level through loss of productivity and increased health care cost,” the ASSH said, noting that psychological and emotional distress also compound the physical injury.
“As a hand surgeon, I’ve had to treat multiple patients with injuries so severe that their fingers required amputation or were already missing. It is not easy news to share, and it’s not easy for patients to hear,” states hand surgeon Steven H. Goldberg, MD, in a media release from ASSH.
According to the ASSH:
- All fireworks are inherently dangerous.
- Firework use should be limited to professional display; explosive materials should only be handled by professionals.
- Firework injury has large personal health impacts and economic cost. Firework injuries to the hand and upper extremity are the most common injury site and can be devastating.
For additional safety tips, visit the ASSH website here.