When Independence Day celebrations take a turn for the worse, some people end up at the hospital.
“Near the Fourth of July we tend to get busy not only from fireworks, but just from people out doing family gatherings, camping, and drinking is involved in many of the fire incidences that we see,” says Debbie Mikkelson, Director of Nursing for the Mercy Burn Center.
Mercy Burn Center staff members say around the Fourth of July in 2013 between 13 and 15 people were seen in the ER for fireworks related injuries.
“People forget how dangerous fireworks are because they're fun and they make loud noises. They're pretty but they are also very dangerous. Remember, they are explosives,” said Mikkelson.
New government data shows more than half of all fireworks related injuries are burns to the hands, head, and eyes.
“The bigger the firework, the more explosive the force, and obviously the more injury is going to occur and with those types of injuries it's not the burn that's worrisome but the actual tissue damage, bone structure, muscle structure, tendons that can create issues with a patients long term ability to use their hand and fingers,” Mikkelson explained.
Nurses say there are simple steps people can take to reduce the likelihood of these kinds of injuries.
“To stay safe, pay attention. They are not toys. Closely monitor children that are using the fireworks, don't allow anyone to be shooting the fireworks at one another. That's a good way to set someone's clothing on fire or loose an eye,” said Mikkelson.
Experts also say clothing and hair play a role as well. They recommend if you're going to be using fireworks, tie back your hair and opt for simpler clothing. They say things with belts and ruffles can easily catch on fire if you get too close.
“I hope everyone has a wonderful fourth of July but please be safe because we would love to take care of you if you need that service but we would much rather you not need our services,” said Mikkelson.
Even sparklers, which are considered safe and kid-friendly by most consumers, are associated with about 1,200 injuries each year. Experts recommend if you're going to use them or any fireworks keep a bucket of water close by so you can quickly put it out and prevent grass or trash fires.