Don't get burned by fireworks

Each 4th of July, consumer fireworks injure thousands of people-most often children and teens-and set fire to thousands of structures and vehicles. Despite the dangers of fireworks, few people understand their serious risks.That's why a group of 21 health and safety organizations - the Alliance to Stop Consumer Fireworks - urges the public to avoid any use of consumer fireworks, including sparklers, as this year's Independence Day celebrations get underway. "As plastic surgeons, we see far too many children and adults with fireworks-related injuries, such as burns to the hands and face, around July Fourth," said Dr. Alex Sinclair, a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) based in Whittier. "The best way to keep your family safe is to avoid using any fireworks at home, and attend public fireworks shows run by professionals." "Families need to understand the risks involved with using even legal consumer fireworks," said Richard D'Amico, MD, president of the ASPS. In 2005 (the most recent year for statistics) more than 10,000 people - nearly half under age 15 - were treated at hospital emergency rooms for fireworks-related injuries, according to a National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) report. In fact, the risk of injury for children ages 10 - 14 was nearly three times the risk for the general population. More than half of the injuries were burns, and 29 percent were contusions or lacerations. Contrary to what many people believe, novelty fireworks such as sparklers and fountains are not risk-free. These fireworks accounted for 26 percent of the injuries. To help prevent further tragedies, in 2001 NFPA formed the Alliance to Stop Consumer Fireworks to educate the public and urge Americans to attend professional fireworks displays on July 4th. ASPS is a member of the alliance along with other public health and fire prevention professional organizations. Dr. Alex Sinclair is an ASPS Member Surgeon. ASPS comprises more than 90 percent of all board-certified plastic surgeons in the United States.

********** Published: June 12, 2009 - Volume 8 - Issue 8