Health Matters The latest news on the health and wellness issues that matter most • July 2019
Dr. Pia Myers and Dr. Nicole S. Patterson
Since 1777, July 4th has been a beloved American holiday. Andwe celebrate our Independence Day in traditional American fashion – with family fun, barbeques, and the traditional grand finale – a spectacular fireworks display. However, for the private citizens who literally take fireworks into their own hands, this day of festivity can turn into disaster and tragedy when safety is not observed. The facts are sobering. On average, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports that 280 people visit a hospital emergency room or urgent care facility every day in the month surrounding the July 4th holiday for treatment of fireworks-related injuries. In 2017, there were 12,900 fireworks-related injuries in the United States – one third of which affected those under age 15.
“The American Academy of Pediatrics says that one fourth of those children injured were only bystanders,” says Nicole S. Patterson, MD, Assistant Medical Director of NCH MacDonald Pediatric Emergency Department. “In over half these cases, adults were actually supervising.” As if that were not bad enough, approximately 18,500 fires can also be attributed to the unsafe handling of fireworks each year, according to statistics compiled by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). “The NFPA says that sparklers burn at about 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit, which is as hot as a blowtorch,” explains Pia Myers, MD, Medical Director of the NCH MacDonald Pediatric Emergency Department. “We used to think sparklers were relatively safe for children – but when held right next to the eye, they are one of the largest causes of children’s injuries.” Dr. Myers sees children with fireworks-related injuries such as heat-related thermal burns, which commonly occur when people believe a sparkler has burned out, and they either handle them or step on themwhile walking on the beach or walking bare-footed. Other injuries include loss of limbs or fingers, when fireworks explode like miniature bombs.
Cutsand lacerations canaffect thegroinand face. Eye injuries from the heat generated by sparklers can ultimately lead to permanent blindness. “And, hearing issues from loud fireworks can affect adults, children and even pets,” Dr. Myers says. According to Dr. Myers, Collier County officials have been very proactive in heightening public awareness about fireworks safety. “Last year, NCH saw less than 10 fireworks-related injuries, and while I have treated children in the pediatric ER, we have also had children transferred to the burn center for emergency treatment.” According to the CPSC, fireworks are classified as hazardous substances under the Federal Hazardous Substances Act (FHSA). Some fireworks, such as illegal firecracker-type devices (M-80s, quarter sticks) and professional display fireworks should never be handled by consumers, due to the risk of serious injury and death. “The safest advice is to monitor your children carefully, prepare younger ones about the expected noises and attend a public fireworks display presented by professionals,” says Dr. Patterson. “And safekids.org recommends that if kids want to hold something that lights up, they can use glow sticks instead of fireworks.”
The NCH Robert, Mariann &Megan MacDonald Pediatric Emergency Department , located at 11190Health Park Blvd, Naples, FL 34110 (239) 624-9104 | Open: 24 hours a day / 7 days aweek
Ensuring Fireworks Safety : 1. Never let young children play with or set off fireworks. 2. Don’t carry fireworks in your pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers. 3. Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Backup to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks. 4. Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire. 5. Never re-light or immediately pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully. Source: www.usa.gov
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