Practice Firework Safety to Avoid Life-altering Injuries

Fireworks are part of many seasonal celebrations, especially July 4th when we celebrate the birth of American independence, but many people fail to realize just how dangerous they really are.  Many accidents each year result in life-altering injuries for people of all ages. This includes an NFL player who suffered extensive injuries to his hand in 2015 due to an accident with fireworks.  Firework injuries can be particularly difficult to treat because they involve both burns and blast injuries, which damage tissues from the skin through the bone and can even cause partial or complete hand amputation.

According to the American Society for Surgery of the Hand (ASSH), fireworks caused over 11,000 injuries in 2016, most commonly damaging hands and fingers.  Sparklers, which many parents consider to be safe, burn at greater than 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit and can quickly cause serious injury.  Injuries to the hand may include disfigurement and permanent disability, affecting jobs and life satisfaction.

Many states recognize the danger and limit the use of consumer fireworks at varying levels. As a hand surgeon who specialize in this type of injury, I urge everyone to understand that all fireworks are inherently dangerous.  They should be limited to professional display and the explosive materials should only be handled by professionals. Firework injuries to the hand can be devastating and have large personal and economic costs. 

Fireworks are unpredictable, and even trained technicians are susceptible to injury. And yet, the ASSH is aware that some people will continue to use fireworks, so they recommend that additional safety precautions should always be taken, including:

  • Use personal protective equipment, including eye protection, when handling any flammable material.
  • Ensure that people nearby are aware of any plan to ignite fireworks and are in a safe area.
  • While attending a public display, pay close attention and obey all rules and regulations established by the authorities and crew in charge of safety.
  • Do not consume alcohol or use other drugs when choosing to use a firework, as it may impair judgment and dexterity.

Please celebrate safely this season!

Alexander Marcus, M.D., is board certified in both orthopedic and hand surgery and has a Certificate of Added Qualifications in Surgery of the Hand. He graduated from Yale, received his medical education at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine and completed his residency at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation.  He also completed a fellowship in hand and wrist surgery at Upstate Medical Center. He possesses almost 15 years of experience treating hand injuries in Central New Jersey. Dr. Marcus has offices in Edison and Old Bridge and is a member of the Hand Center at Hackensack Meridian Health Raritan Bay Medical Center.  To make an appointment, call 1-855-5-MOTION.

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