Coast to coast, the Fourth of the July is one of the most celebrated holidays of summer and an opportunity to enjoy every bit of what the outdoor has to offer. Unfortunately there are thousands of injuries incurred across the United States every year at this time, as a result of firework accidents.
Unofficially, those at highest risk for firework injuries are teenaged boys. Adult men closely follow in the second highest risk group, according to reports of ER physicians and orthopedic hand specialists….
It is estimated that over 40 percent of firework injuries occur to the hand and upper extremity.
Injuries most commonly occur when an ignited firework seemingly fails to go off, though explodes when checked – often in a hand. Other injuries occur from the unexpected heat many fireworks omit. Even an unassuming “sparkler” can heat to over 2000 degrees, capable of causing 2nd and 3rd degree burns.
The fireworks most implicated in causing injury include small firecrackers, bottle rockets and sparklers, because they are the least feared.
Among the most common hand and upper extremity traumatic injuries caused by fireworks include:
- Contusions and lacerations
- Damage to bones, muscle, ligaments and nerves
Medical Attention for a Traumatic Firework Injury
To avoid permanent damage to the hand and wrist, it is important to seek immediate attention for a traumatic firework injury.
With approximately 50 nerves in the hand, 34 muscles moving the fingers and thumb, over 120 known ligaments, 30 major joints, 30 bones and a myriad of connective tendons, it is imperative that you follow up with a hand specialist following an ER or urgent care visit should such an accident happen.
Hand function and quality of life is dependent on not only immediate care but proper follow up to a hand injury. If such injuries are not adequately addressed, irreversible nerve and tendon damage can impair hand feeling and movement, and the early onset of osteoarthritis from post traumatic bone and joint damage can further hinder hand function.
Reducing Risks of Traumatic Firework Injury
While many of the tips for reducing risk of hand injury trauma from fireworks seem common sense, they are often lost during the festivities surrounding such holidays and warrant repeating.
- Ignite all fireworks with extended lighters.
- Remain a safe distance from ignited fireworks.
- Allow sufficient time for fireworks to go off / explode before approaching (and handle previously ignited fireworks with an extended apparatus such as BBQ tongs).
- Supervise young children holding sparklers, advise teens of the heat hazard of these and other small, seemingly harmless fireworks.
Have a happy and safe Fourth of the July!