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Officials warn of risks associated with using fireworks ahead of Independence Day

'Explosion injuries, firework injuries, losing fingers, hands, eyes,' Pedro Gonzalez
Posted at 1:36 PM, Jul 03, 2023

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — Ahead of the Fourth of July holiday WPTV is reminding people of the risks of using fireworks. Data shows most injuries related to fireworks happen around this time of year.

It’s one of the most colorful and patriotic holidays, but officials said, it can also be one of the most dangerous.

This year, Palm Beach County firefighters are encouraging people to leave the over-the-top fireworks display to professionals.

“We actually really promote and encourage people to go see a show, because there are professionals that handle the fireworks,” Palm Beach County Fire Rescue community education supervisor Elyse Weintraub Brown. “There’s a lot of parameters they need to abide by, there’s a permitting process, an inspection process.”

For those who prefer to skip the show and host their own patriotic party, beware of the risks of using fireworks.

Palm Beach County Fire Rescue community education supervisor Elyse Weintraub Brown July 3 2023.jpg
Palm Beach County Fire Rescue community education supervisor Elyse Weintraub Brown explains the benefits of attending a fireworks show.

There were 11,500 emergency room-treated injuries involving fireworks in 2021, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

CPSC also said nearly 75% of all injuries dealing with fireworks happen in the few weeks around the Fourth of July holiday.

WPTV spoke to the trauma medical director at Delray Beach Medical Center about the patients they’ve seen recently in the emergency room.

“Explosion injuries, firework injuries, losing fingers, hands, eyes, things of that nature,” Trauma Medical Director Pedro Gonzalez. “A very bad injury is probably the worst injury that we see in regard to long term effect.”

Here are some tips on preventing injuries:

  • Light fireworks one at a time, then quickly move away.
  • Keep a bucket of water or a hose handy, in case of fire or other issues.
  • Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks, including sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, which is hot enough to melt some metals and definitely hot enough to melt a bathing suit.
Trauma Medical Director Pedro Gonzalez July 3 2023.jpg
Delray Beach Medical Center Trauma Medical Director Pedro Gonzalez shares the injuries he's seen in the emergency room around Fourth of July.

Gonzalez said another thing that sends people to the hospital is drinking.

“Alcohol and fireworks do not mix,” he said. “They don’t limit their alcohol, they don’t know when to say when, and then they end up here. You don’t want to end up here.”

Although it’s a celebration, officials are warning people to not get lost in partying.

“Just for that one moment of smiles and happiness and bright lights, can cause a lifetime of devastating, traumatic injuries,” Brown said.

Fire officials also told WPTV glow sticks are a great alternative for sparklers.