Mercy Doctors Get Blunt About At-Home Fireworks

July 1, 2017
Fireworks season is back, and hospitals are preparing for another increase in fireworks-related injuries.
"The best piece of advice I can give patients is not light them in your hand," said Dr. Joe Olivi, trauma director at Mercy Hospital Springfield.
Mercy Kids pediatrician Dr. Kody Finstad agrees. "There is a big difference between the million-dollar pyrotechnics display arranged by experts and the 'buy one get 10 free' fireworks that litter every street corner and grocery store parking lot," Dr. Finstad said. "This is why the American Academy of Pediatrics helped found the Alliance to Stop Consumer Fireworks.”
“We see tragic cases every year,” added Mercy's Dr. Kenneth Larson. “Emergency departments around the country see people with injuries to eyes, hands and faces. It's very common and can be extremely serious with loss of an eye or vision and loss of fingers or the whole hand."

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates U.S. hospital emergency rooms treat about 10,500 people for fireworks-related injuries each year; one in three are children under 15. Most of the injuries happen mid-June through mid-July.

Because eye injuries related to consumer fireworks are a growing problem, this has prompted the International Council of Ophthalmology to endorse a global ban.

WATCH: Dr. Shachar Tauber speaks about fireworks eye trauma

Celebrate Safely With These Tips

While fireworks are beautiful to watch and fun to enjoy, Mercy recommends leaving them to the professionals. If families insist on having their own fireworks, despite the well-documented risks involved, be cautious and follow these tips:

  • Never allow young children to play with fireworks, including sparklers.
  • Older children should only be permitted to use fireworks under close adult supervision. Do not allow any running or horseplay.
  • Light fireworks outdoors in a clear area away from houses, dry leaves or grass and flammable materials.
  • Keep a bucket of water nearby for emergencies and for pouring on fireworks that don't go off.
  • Do not try to relight or handle malfunctioning fireworks. Douse and soak them with water and throw them away.
  • Be sure other people are out of range before lighting fireworks.
  • Never ignite fireworks in a container, especially a glass or metal container.
  • Keep unused fireworks away from firing areas.
  • Store fireworks in a dry, cool place. Check instructions for special storage directions.
  • Observe local laws.
  • Never have any portion of your body directly over a firework while lighting.
  • Don't experiment with homemade fireworks.
  • Parents should supervise the ordering and use of mail-order “make your own” fireworks kits.
  • If you suffer an injury, seek medical attention right away.

Surprisingly, even sparklers, which are mistakenly considered safe by consumers, can reach temperatures of 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit and are associated with 1,200 injuries a year, according to the CPSC, accounting for 20 percent of the injuries.

While taking precautions can help, injuries can still quickly occur. Not all burns need to be treated in the emergency room. Small burns should be wrapped in a clean, cold towel to stop the burning process, and evaluated as to whether they need further medical attention. If you are unsure about the severity of the burn, call 911 or report to your nearest hospital immediately. As in all cases, prevention is the best overall protection to ensure a safe and happy Fourth of July.



Firework Advice from Mercy Eye Specialists

One-third of people injured by fireworks are younger than 15

Infographic from the American Academy of Ophthalmology



Mercy, named one of the top five large U.S. health systems in 2017 by Truven, an IBM Watson Health company, serves millions annually. Mercy includes 44 acute care and specialty (heart, children’s, orthopedic and rehab) hospitals, more than 700 physician practices and outpatient facilities, 40,000 co-workers and more than 2,000 Mercy Clinic physicians in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. Mercy also has outreach ministries in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. 

Media Contacts

Sonya Kullmann
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Phone: 417-820-2426