LUMBERTON — When it comes to fireworks, here’s advice that could prevent a devastating injury: Leave the shows to the pros.
Fireworks cause thousands of injuries, including severe burns and eye injuries, every year in the United States. Many are serious enough to require treatment in hospital emergency departments. Some are deadly. And those hurt or killed are often children or bystanders.
“Fireworks of all kinds are easily available to people in Southeastern North Carolina, including those fireworks that are illegal in our state,” said Dr. John Reed, medical director of Southeastern Regional Medical Center’s Emergency Department. “Fireworks should be used by a sober adult who is familiar with the safe operation of the device, and who knows the hazards involved. Fireworks should not be used by children without direct adult supervision, and those devices which explode, shoot sparks or launch should not be used by a child under any circumstance.”
Even sparklers are dangerous. They burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees — hot enough to burn some metals. And they account for 25 percent of fireworks injuries treated at emergency departments.
That’s why the National Fire Protection Agency cautions that backyard fireworks simply aren’t safe. People who want to “ooh and aah” at fireworks should take in a public display put on by experts, the NFPA advises.
People who want to light fireworks themselves should be sure to take these precautions:
— Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.
— Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities.
— Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse.
— Never try to relight or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully.
— Keep a bucket of water or garden hose handy in case of a fire or other mishap.
In the event of an injury, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room immediately. Southeastern Health operates walk-in clinics for minor injuries, several with weekend hours, including The Clinic at Walmart at the Lumberton Walmart Supercenter, Southeastern Heath Mall Clinic on the campus of Biggs Park Mall, and Southeastern Urgent Care Pembroke. To learn more, go to www.southeasternhealth.org.