Firefighters encourage safe firework fun

The Richmond Fire Department wants everyone to have a fun, but safe Fourth of July.

“We would also like to remind everyone of the dangers associated with illegal fireworks and the improper use of legal fireworks,” said Corey Lewis, spokesperson for the Richmond Fire Department. “Statistics from a report by the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) show that fireworks annually cause tens of millions of dollars in property damage, injure thousands, as well as cause some deaths.”

Injuries from the intense heat of fireworks typically harm eyes, heads, hands, arms and legs, Lewis said.

“Some burns can leave disfiguring scars that will last a lifetime,” he said.

Children are at greatest risks from fireworks, whether as spectators or active participants. Approximately 62 percent of fireworks injuries are to young people under the age of 20, according to the National Fire Protection Agency. Children between the ages of 10 and 14 accounted for approximately 20 percent of the injuries. 

In 2008, U.S. hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 7,000 people for fireworks-related injuries, according to statistics from the U.S. Fire Administration. About 70 percent of these injuries occurred between June 20 and July 20. Of these injuries, 46 percent were to the extremities and 36 percent were to the head; 56 percent were burns, while 21 percent were contusions and lacerations; two of five people injured by fireworks were under the age of 15; 62 percent of injuries were to males; and 38 percent were to females.

Dr. Josh Morgan, an emergency room physician at Pattie A. Clay Regional Medical Center, said most injuries he sees are burns.

“You’ll get someone who gets (the firework) a little too close to their hands when it explodes,” he said.

Fireworks have become less dangerous over the years, according to Morgan, but he sees patients of all ages who come to the ER because of a firework explosion mishap.

Devices such as sparklers, fountains, roman candles and novelties accounted for 40 percent of injuries; and firecrackers caused 18 percent of injuries.

While most parents work year round to keep their children safe, fireworks discharged in their backyards place their children in substantial risk, Lewis said.

“Attend public firework displays exhibited by trained professionals,” said Richmond Fire Chief Gerald Tatum. “It’s the safest way to enjoy fireworks on the Fourth of July.”

Visit fire.richmond.ky.us for more information about fireworks safety.

Ronica Shannon can be reached at rshannon@richmondregister.com or 624-6608.

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