ROSEMONT, Ill. (June 21, 2021)—Fireworks have a nostalgic foothold in the American consciousness as indispensable to some celebrations. As healthcare workers with first-hand experience treating the sequelae of firework-related injuries, orthopaedic surgeons are obligated to shed light on the perilous nature of these incendiary devices. Although most firework-related emergency department visits are due to superficial burns, thousands result in life-altering injuries. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) encourages Americans to celebrate safely and take caution when handling or viewing fireworks.
Steven M. Koehler, MD, FAAOS, director, hand and microsurgery, SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, is available to speak about the positive correlation between increases in firework sales and increases in firework-related upper extremity injuries.
His research is poised for publication in the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (JAAOS) and reveals how upper extremity injuries represent significant morbidity, disability and emotional distress to patients as well as rising healthcare expenditures. It notes:
- Between 2008 and 2017, the American Pyrotechnics Association reported a 41% increase in revenue from firework sales, with 2017 showing $885 million US dollars in consumer sales.
- The hand (21,712, 52.7%) and finger (13,643,33.1%) were the most commonly injured body parts, followed by the forearm (4,234, 10.3%) and wrist (687,1.7%) (Table 2). Among finger injuries, the thumb was most commonly injured (n = 6,998; 51.3%), followed by the index finger (n = 3.134; 22.3%) and combined thumb index injuries (n = 530; 3.9%).
- Although the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reported in 2018 that 62% of all firework injuries occurred between June 22 and July 22, this study indicated that over 75% of these injuries occurred between the months of June and August.
- While illegal firework use is declining, increased consumer education and outreach for the current products on the market is required to decrease future burn and musculoskeletal injuries.
Stay safe this season by following some safety tips from the AAOS:
- Check with your local police department to determine if fireworks are legal in your area. If so, find out which types, and verify that there is not a burn ban in effect in your community that might create hazardous fire conditions.
- Never purchase or use illegal fireworks. Their quality cannot be assured.
- Only adults should light fireworks.
- Always have water close by in case of a fire, such as a hose hooked to a faucet or a nearby bucket of water.
- Wear safety eyewear when using fireworks.
- Soak used fireworks in water before discarding to prevent setting unintentional fires.
- Never try to relight a firework.
- If you are injured using fireworks, seek immediate medical attention.
- Never allow young children to play with or go near fireworks, including sparklers. Some sparklers can reach temperatures of more than 1,000 degrees.
- Never handle fireworks if you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
For more information about fingertip injuries, visit OrthoInfo.org.
To schedule an interview with Dr. Koehler to learn more about common orthopaedic burn or trauma injuries resulting from fireworks, email [email protected].