Burn specialists offer safety tips for fireworks

Tuesday, June 29, 2010 | 9:11 p.m. CDT; updated 10:09 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, June 30, 2010

COLUMBIA — An estimated 7,000 Americans were treated for fireworks-related injuries in hospital emergency rooms in 2008, according to a University of Missouri Health Care news release.

More than half of those injuries were sustained by children and adults under the age of 20, the release said.

"Fireworks are especially dangerous for young children," Nicholas Meyer said in the release, a fellowship-trained burn surgeon at the George D. Peak Memorial Burn and Wound Center at University Hospital. "We care for far more children injured by fireworks than adults."

Meyer said metal sparklers are one of the most dangerous fireworks for children because they burn at temperatures of more than 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit, which often results in severe burns to the hands and arms.

With the Fourth of July quickly approaching, MU Health Care wants to inform Missouri residents on safety guidelines when lighting fireworks:

  • Never give fireworks to children.
  • Read and follow all warnings and instructions.
  • At least one adult should supervise the use of fireworks.
  • Wear protective eye wear.
  • Only use fireworks outdoors.
  • Light fireworks on a smooth, flat surface away from houses, dry leaves and trees.
  • Light fireworks one at a time, and keep a safe distance away.
  • Use punk sticks to light fireworks.
  • Never have any part of your body over fireworks.
  • Never light fireworks in your hand.
  • Always have a water hose or bucket of water nearby.

Meyer recommends to enjoy public demonstrations of fireworks because they are run by professionally trained staff with experience in running fireworks displays.

To treat a fireworks burn injury, cool the burn with cool water, not ice or ice water. Clean the area and cover the burn. If the burn is larger than the size of a palm, if discomfort or pain is experienced in caring for the burn or if the burn occurs on the hands, feet or face, you can call University Hospital's George D. Peak Memorial burn and Wound Center at 573-882-2876.

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