June 30, 2009

Surgeons: Leave fireworks to professionals

The United States' Independence Day celebrations bring an annual warning from doctors -- leave the fireworks to professionals.

Fourth of July fireworks always draw a crowd but those beautiful bursts of color can lead to catastrophic injuries if not used with care, Dr. James C. Krieg, spokesman of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, said.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission says last year more than 15,000 fireworks-related injuries were treated -- 8,000 involving children under 18. The total cost for medical expenses, legal expenses, work loss, and pain and suffering resulting from those injuries equaled more than $5.4 million, the commission says.

Fireworks can be used safely by trained adults, but illegal firecrackers or ones that are used improperly present substantial risks, Krieg said in a statement. If fireworks misfire or explode prematurely, the extreme amount of force can tear or destroy tissue, including bones and nerves, causing permanent damage.

Krieg recommendations:

-- Check with local police to determine which fireworks can be discharged legally in your area.

-- Never buy illegal fireworks. Their quality cannot be assured.

-- Never hold lighted fireworks.

-- Never allow young children to play with or go near fireworks, including sparklers. They seem harmless but sparklers can reach temperatures of more than 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit.