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How to avoid an ER trip this Independence Day

JOPLIN, Mo. — As fireworks are about to light up the sky, a safety reminder this upcoming Fourth of July.

According to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 11,000 people were treated in ERs for firework injuries last year.

Medical experts want everyone to keep safety in mind throughout the holiday weekend festivities.

Dr. Douglas McDonald, an ER physician with Freeman Health System, says most firework-related injuries are results of accidents.

“One of the fireworks falls over, shoots into the crowd of people, or individuals holding them in their hands. I would advise against holding them in your hands. Put them on the ground, light them, get away safely. Ensure that they’re standing up, have proper bases for the fireworks so that they don’t blow over or fall over when they go off,” said Dr. McDonald.

The hospital’s emergency rooms see the most serious injuries from large explosions.

“The most devastating injuries come from the mortar-style fireworks because that is a large explosive and can cause significant damage and injury,” said Dr. McDonald.

And, the most common firework injuries for children come from sparklers.

“It would be burns and a lot of times it’s due to the sparklers. The children holding the sparklers, getting them too close to their face, waving them at each other’s faces, so please, keep them separated, keep them off at a distance, be supervised by parents to ensure that they’re safely utilized and having fun with the fireworks,” said Dr. McDonald.

It’s also important to know what a severe burn looks like so you know when to seek medical help.

“Any blistering, any severe skin or tissue damage that would be black or charred would be some of the most concerning burn injuries that we’d be concerned with,” said Dr. McDonald.

He urges folks to get medical attention right away if they experience a severe burn.

“The first thing would be to put out any fire flames or burning, put water on it, and then just a clean dressing, clean sheet, clean towel, anything like that,” said Dr. McDonald.

Nine people died in 2021 from fireworks in the U.S. according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Again, Dr. McDonald suggests making sure you’re using a proper base for the firework to help prevent any injuries.

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