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The Catalyst

Alcohol consumption also increases firework injuries

The use of fireworks is synonymous with summer fun. But according to consumer safety experts, firework injuries in 2012 sent more than 5,000 people to hospital emergency departments in the month surrounding the Fourth of July holiday.

Fireworks safety tips

  • Only use fireworks outdoors.
  • Obey all local laws regarding the use of fireworks.
  • Never give fireworks to children.
  • Wear safety glasses when shooting fireworks.
  • Always have a bucket of water or water hose nearby.
  • Do not hold fireworks in the hand or try to throw them.
  • Do not look down the barrel of aerial shells, especially if they don't go off at first.
  • Do not approach unexploded fireworks; fuses are not perfect.
  • Never point Roman candles and other fireworks toward people or combustible items.
  • Do not play with homemade fireworks.

Of the 5,000 reported injuries, more than half involved burns to people’s hands, head and face. Almost 1,000 of these injuries involved sparklers, bottle rockets and commercial fireworks usually considered safe for children.

According to Inez Tenenbaum, chairman of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, these figures are representative beyond these numbers. “They represent the lives of real people who have been affected well beyond the Fourth of July,” she said.

At MUSC, Emergency Medicine director Edward Jauch, M.D., reported that the most common firework injuries involve hands and eyes as well as other general burns throughout the body.

“Consumption of alcohol increases people’s chances for risky behavior, resulting in accidents involving boating, swimming, bicycling and ATV [all-terrain vehicle] use. It also increases the risk of dehydration, trauma and injury from falls, drowning, etc.,” he said.

Jauch advises people to be cautious as it relates to fireworks safety, alcohol use and summer activities. He reminds people that a visit to the hospital in the event of an emergency may seem unnecessary or inconvenient, but he urges people to seek medical care especially when there is a threat of life, and limb injuries or open wounds that require an X-ray, stitches or removal of a foreign object.

For more information from the Consumer Product Safety Commission, visit

July 2, 2013

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