Firefighters, doctors share firework safety tips ahead of Fourth of July weekend

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In this photo illustration a woman holds a burning matchstick and fireworks. (Photo illustration by Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS — Doctors with Community Health Network say they are already seeing patients rush into their emergency rooms with firework-related injuries.

The Fourth of July is still more than one week away, but Dr. Mathew Connelly said he begins seeing firework-related injuries around Memorial Day.

“The main thing we see is hand injuries. So, we have had people lose all five fingers. We have had people lose one or two. I mean it can be really significant,” said Dr. Connelly, an emergency room physician for the past seven years.

Dr. Connelly said even the fireworks you buy at the local warehouse are extremely powerful.

“They burn extremely hot to create that bright fun effect that we all know and love but can put people at risk if they’re not paying attention,” Dr. Connelly said. “We have kids who come in with burns and they can disfigure them for life and that’s just really what we want to avoid.”

Arguably the most common firework given to children is a sparkler, but Dr. Connelly says those sparklers can burn three times hotter than your average grill.

“They don’t have the explosive damage that other fireworks do but they’re just as hot as any other firework,” said Dr. Connelly.

From injuries to explosive fires, Deputy Chief Michael Pruitt and his fellow firefighters at the Bargersville Fire Department have seen it all.

 “I would like to think that, you know, every time we do these public safety messages, we do prevent accidents,” said Deputy Chief Pruitt. “If we didn’t remind people there would be more accidents, but we know there’s still going to be accidents. That’s a given.”

Deputy Chief Pruitt said he learned his own lesson the hard way. At a young age, Pruitt said he lit a firecracker with a short fuse but could not run away in time.

“Well, this thing blew up in my face and ever since that point in my life I’ve had a slight hearing deficiency in my left ear which shows up in all my hearing tests,” Deputy Chief Pruitt said.

Both Pruitt and Connelly said all firework-related injuries are preventable, so long as Hoosiers follow simple safety precautions:

  • Give plenty of space between the experienced adult lighting the firework and the crowd watching
  • Only light fireworks on a level surface with plenty of open space
  • Have fire extinguishers or a bucket of water nearby
  • Wear safety glasses whenever possible
  • Always supervise any children and teenagers under the age of 18

“Really, at the end of the day, the only fool-proof way to avoid these things is to go to your local professional show that’s going on and just avoid that all together,” said Dr. Connelly.

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