For many adults and children, fireworks are a tradition of summer activities. However, fireworks cause thousands of injuries and emergency room visits each year.
Tim Harman, DO, a hand and upper extremity surgeon with The Hand Center of Southwestern Ohio, recalls past Fourth of July weekends that had him busy, operating on hands that got in the way of a firework gone awry. Independence Day can be as grueling as Tax Day is for accountants.
Dr. Harman, one of five surgeons at the hand center, said they are on the front line. "Typically, someone lights a firework. It doesn't go off. They pick it up to see why, and it goes off," Harman said. "It's very common for them to lose some digits." Of the finger, hand, and arm injuries, the majority of injuries were caused from accidents involving firecrackers, bottle rockets, and sparklers— the three firework-types most often used in a backyard environment. Harman says people underestimate how powerful a firework really are. Fireworks behave so unpredictably, plus, they may have lifelong ramifications of a split second of fun.
The Hand Center of Southwestern Ohio wants everyone to have a safe and happy Fourth of July. "People should know the risk they face when using fireworks," said Dr. Harman. "Fireworks can be very dangerous and the best way to prevent fireworks related injuries is to leave the fireworks display to trained professionals. Improperly handling fireworks can turn a celebration into a tragedy."