MAYWOOD, Ill. – As the 4th of July approaches, emergency departments across the state are already beginning to treat patients injured by fireworks.
Last year 135 people in Illinois suffered injuries caused by fireworks, according to the Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal. Across the country, seven people died and about 7,000 people were treated in emergency departments for fireworks-related injuries, according to the latest figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Fireworks are basically explosives and all are capable of causing severe injuries, but even minor injuries can cause significant functional disability when it comes to sight and hand function,” said trauma surgeon Dr. Thomas Esposito of Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, Ill.
Fireworks are not toys, Esposito said. Even those that are considered legal are dangerous. They burn at approximately the same temperature as a household match. Also, fireworks can cause burn injuries and ignite clothing if used improperly.
“Even fireworks that are classified as ‘safer,’ such as bottle rockets and sparklers, are responsible for some of the most serious wounds treated by emergency physicians,” said Esposito, who is also a professor of surgery and chief of the Division of Trauma, Surgical Critical Care and Burns in the Department of Surgery, Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine in Maywood.
Here are some tips to help keep safe while celebrating Independence Day:
*If you choose to use legal fireworks, carefully read and follow all directions on the packaging.
*Plan safe activities for children. Give them glow-in-the-dark wands and noisemakers as substitutes for sparklers and firecrackers.
*Teach children about the dangers of fireworks and other explosives. Discourage children from lighting them and set a good example by never using fireworks yourself.
*If you find explosive substances around your home, call the local fire department’s nonemergency line for disposal guidelines. Do not dispose of them or explode them yourself. Too many unknown factors like age, moisture levels and amount of explosive material make them dangerous and unpredictable.
*Never underestimate the inventiveness of children who sometimes try to concoct homemade devices. Keep potentially hazardous materials like lighter fluid, charcoal lighter and gasoline out of their reach.
*Never approach a firework device after it has been lit, even if it appears to have gone out. It is likely to still be excessively hot and may explode unexpectedly.
*Consider safe alternatives for celebrations. Check the newspapers for community fireworks displays handled by professionals or hold a celebration at home where you can supervise your children’s holiday festivities.
*If an injury occurs, call 911 or the local emergency phone number. Get immediate medical aid from experts who specialize in treating burns and other traumatic injuries.
Loyola University Medical Center trauma and burn physicians are available to discuss the types of fireworks-related injuries they have treated over the years, including loss of sight and hearing, dismemberments, third-degree burns, fractures, lacerations, deaths and permanent scarring. To interview Esposito or other Loyola emergency physicians, call Perry Drake in Media Relations, (708) 216-7940. Cell: (708) 441-7736.
Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, Loyola University Health System is a quaternary care system with a 61-acre main medical center campus, the 36-acre Gottlieb Memorial Hospital campus and 22 primary and specialty care facilities in Cook, Will and DuPage counties. The medical center campus is conveniently located in Maywood, 13 miles west of the Chicago Loop and 8 miles east of Oak Brook, Ill. The heart of the medical center campus, Loyola University Hospital, is a 569-licensed-bed facility. It houses a Level 1 Trauma Center, a Burn Center and the Ronald McDonald® Children’s Hospital of Loyola University Medical Center. Also on campus are the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, Loyola Outpatient Center, Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine and Loyola Oral Health Center as well as the LUC Stritch School of Medicine, the LUC Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. Loyola’s Gottlieb Memorial Hospital campus in Melrose Park includes the 264-bed community hospital, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness and the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Care Center.