Trauma Services Gear Up for Fourth of July Injuries

July 01, 2015

KANSAS CITY, Kan.— Independence Day is a time of celebrating our country's history, spending time with loved ones and, of course, fireworks. It's also a time for an increase in visits to emergency departments as a result of fireworks injuries.

  • Types of common fireworks injuries.

In 2014, hands, arms and faces suffered the most injuries from fireworks that exploded or sparked in the wrong direction according to statistics taken in the Emergency Department at The University of Kansas Hospital. Of the 30 people who rushed to the ER, three were injured severely enough to be hospitalized. The most serious injuries included blown off digits, third degree burns and serious eye damage.

To help prepare for the upcoming holiday, the Trauma and Burn departments at The University of Kansas Hospital is ramping up their "Fast Track" response for the anticipated volume of people who will require medical attention, although the medical staff hopes their services won't be needed and encourage everyone to use extreme caution when celebrating.

Last year, patients requiring medical attention at The University of Kansas Hospital ranged in age from five to 52, with an average age of 26. Twenty-two males overwhelmingly made up the largest patient pool and suffered more serious injuries. Sparklers and mortars consistently caused the most physical damage.

If you suffer an injury related to fireworks, there are Do's and Don'ts of first aid to keep in mind. Jennifer Parks, RN, Trauma Performance Improvement Coordinator, and Kelly Dahl, RN, Education Specialist explain.

Do's and Don'ts based on injury type:

Sparklers might seem like a safe way for kids to celebrate but they reach temperatures of 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, which can easily cause third degree burns. If you are burned:

Don't – Put ice on the injury.This can lead to further tissue damage.

Do – Run the burn under room temperature water for relief.

If a firework fails to go off as planned, injuries can occur when it goes off unexpectedly while being examined. This can result in loss of body parts, like a finger. If this occurs:

Don't – Clean the finger or injured area.

Do – Wrap both the finger and the injured area in moist towels. Place the finger in a bag, then place it in a container with ice.

Most importantly – Get to the emergency room as quickly as possible.

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