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Lourdes Emergency Medicine Expert Gives Tips for Staying Safe this Fourth of July

Hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 8,700 people for fireworks-related injuries in 2012, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Many fireworks injuries also go unreported.

While fireworks can seem like a fun way to celebrate the holiday, they are dangerous in amateur hands, and in New Jersey, illegal, said a Lourdes Emergency Medicine expert.

“Children ages five to 19 are the highest risk age group for fireworks-related injuries,” said Dr. Jenice Forde-Baker, assistant director of Emergency Medicine at Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center. “Unfortunately, these injuries can be prevented.”

Dr. Forde-Baker said that fireworks injuries typically involve burns, lacerations and abrasions to the face, arms and hands. Some injuries can result in permanent blindness, severe scarring dismemberment, or in some cases, death.

“Legal or not, fireworks are too risky for amateurs,” said Dr. Forde-Baker. “They are only suitable for use by trained professionals. When used by amateurs, fireworks can result in injury not only the user but bystanders and surrounding property and structures.”

Consumer fireworks include sparklers and firecrackers. A sparkler, considered by many to be harmless, can burn at a temperature of more than 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit –hot enough to cause a third-degree burn. Sparklers account for 10 percent of fireworks-related injuries.

Fortunately, there are safer alternatives to using fireworks on the Fourth of July, said Dr. Forde-Baker. “Public fireworks displays, conducted by trained professionals, are the safest alternative because they are established under controlled settings and regulations.”

“Fireworks are dangerous and unpredictable, especially in the hands of amateurs,” added Dr. Forde-Baker. “The few seconds of pleasure fireworks bring are not worth the risk permanent injury or even death.”

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