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June 27, 2006 > Make This Fourth of July Fun and Safe

Make This Fourth of July Fun and Safe

Use Common Sense When Watching or Handling Fireworks

One of the most visible elements of Fourth of July celebrations is the fireworks. They’re colorful, bright, loud…and dangerous. According to statistics published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2003, four persons died and an estimated 9,300 were treated in emergency departments for fireworks-related injuries in the United States.

Fireworks Safety Month, observed through the Fourth of July, is a good time to educate young children and brush up on your own fireworks safety guidelines.

Luckily for Tri-City area residents, serious injuries due to fireworks have been rare in recent years, according to Dr. David Orenberg, M.D., medical director of Emergency Services at Washington Hospital. But that doesn’t mean that people should be any less vigilant in the presence of fireworks. “Obviously, fireworks are fun and neat, especially for kids who many times don’t realize the potential danger,” Dr. Orenberg says. “Things happen suddenly when you’re dealing with fireworks, and many times people don’t realize how dangerous they can be.”

The most common injuries seen in the ER, according to Orenberg, are typically injuries to the hands, eyes and facial area.

Anyone handling or merely in proximity to fireworks should use caution. According to CDC statistics, about 45 percent of persons injured from fireworks are children ages 14 years and younger with males representing 72 percent of all injuries. And most frighteningly, it is children ages 5 to 9 years that have the highest injury rate for fireworks-related injuries.

It may come as a surprise that illegal fireworks are not actually the ones responsible for the largest percentage of injuries. According to the CDC, illegal large firecrackers represent only 2 percent of all firecracker injuries. In reality, firecrackers (24 percent), rockets (18 percent), and sparklers (11 percent) accounted for most of the injuries seen in emergency departments during 2003.

It is also important to note, that sparklers, considered harmless by many, were associated with the most injuries for children under five, according to the CDC statistics.

“I would recommend people visit the ER for any kind of fireworks injuries,” Dr. Orenberg says. “They can be more severe than they look.”

Many minor injuries can be treated at urgent care clinics, but when in doubt, the general rule is to visit the ER.

The sale, possession and use of all fireworks are banned within the City of Fremont. The cities of Union City and Newark only allow “safe and sane” fireworks, and both have strict regulations as to where and how fireworks may be used. Contact the cities’ individual police departments for detailed information, as regulations vary.

Washington Clinic/Fremont, located across the street from Washington Hospital on the second floor of 2500 Mowry Avenue in Fremont, offers urgent care services for minor injuries and illness. Treatment is offered on a walk-in basis, and patients are seen in order of severity of illness or injury.

Washington Hospital’s Emergency Room is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and is located at 2000 Mowry Avenue. If you have a life-threatening emergency, always call 911.

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