Officials emphasize fireworks safety to prevent injuries - KCTV5

Officials emphasize fireworks safety to prevent injuries

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Careless use of fireworks causes many injuries over the Fourth of July weekend, and the area's most prominent burn unit is already nearly filled to capacity.

Injuries from fires and fireworks have already brought patients to the burn unit at the University of Kansas Hospital.

The burn unit has just two beds left in advance of the three-day holiday weekend.

"Being a three-day weekend, I anticipate we'll see higher than normal volumes," said Dr. James Howard, medical director of the burn unit.

Officials are emphasizing fireworks safety in hopes of preventing injuries or deaths this weekend.

Area fire departments say nearly 50 percent of the injuries they will see this weekend will be burns to the hands. Sparklers may seem harmless but they can burn at up to 1,800 degrees.

Consumer Product Safety Commission says that there were 11,000 injuries last year due to fireworks and eight deaths, and 65 percent of the injuries happened in the 30 days surrounding the holiday.

Howard anticipates 20 patients a day starting Wednesday and lasting through Sunday.

"Anytime you have a longer weekend for people to go out and celebrate the Fourth of July it tends to increase the volume of patients we see," Howard said.

The hospital won't turn away patients. Instead, patients will be moved to other units such as intensive care or pediatric.

Sparklers, smoke bombs and poppers are appropriate for children but caution is advised. Firework stand operators advise parents to make logical decisions while exercising caution.

Operators do sell novelty fireworks especially designed for children.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives did a demonstration of the explosive power of fireworks and how they can easily maim someone.

The ATF warns about people making fireworks illegally and the injuries that those fireworks can cause.

"The chemical compounds that are inside of these are so volatile that it takes very, very little," said John Ham of the ATF. "Just cutting into the shell can set them off."

A man was killed and a second man seriously burned when a house exploded while they were making illegal fireworks. And a couple of years ago a man was killed when his Independence home exploded due to illegal fireworks.

"We've had a house explosion and loss of life," Ham said. "Let's not repeat that."

The ATF advises going to a sports event, park or other sanctioned public events to see fireworks safely.

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