Fireworks injuries hit highest level last year

Sparklers caused most injuries

By Ashley Mitchem - Reporter, anchor

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - It's all pomp and patriotism until someone burns a limb.

Last year, the number of fireworks-related injuries soared to their highest level in more than a decade, according to a U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission report.

And with the Fourth of July on Friday, there is a serious safety concern that comes with the celebration.

"You have to be careful, no doubt," said Mark Eisenhauer, who celebrates with fireworks. "This is very dangerous stuff. I've been doing it a long time and you just have to be sensible with it."

"We got a whole truckload, we got enough to just have fun with the kids," fireworks user John Bennett said.

Another person who knows firsthand about the dangers of fireworks is Dr. Bracken Burns, who works in the trauma unit at UF Health Jacksonville.

"The key is to read any of the warnings that come with them, because there are so many different types to see what the expected outcome of each firework is," Burns said.

He said alcohol is one major component that often leads to fireworks-related injuries and injuries in general on the Fourth.

"Although it doesn't sound as much fun, alcohol and fireworks are probably not the best combination as well because it slows your reaction time and coordination," Burns said.

Besides drinking responsibly, especially if lighting up fireworks, residents should be aware of their surroundings.

"Make sure you are in an area that is safe to set fireworks off, avoiding flammable things in the area," Burns said.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission report, an estimated 11,400 injuries were reported during 2013, a staggering 31 percent climb compared to 8,700 injuries reported the year before.

There were also eight deaths in 2013 caused by head and chest trauma, or house fires that resulted from mishandled fireworks.

Roughly half of the injured were 25 or younger. Children younger than 4 accounted for 14 percent of the injuries, which is why it's important to supervise any children who may want to set off the explosives.

Burns said hand injuries and burns are typical injuries if fireworks are used properly.

"You can imagine concerns about burns that can happen," he said. "Depending on the strength of the firework, you can actually have damage to the tissues."

Sparklers cause the most injuries, accounting for 2,300 last year. They burn at roughly 2,000 degrees and often wind up in the hands of children.

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