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Avoid the ER; Celebrate Fourth of July safely

Glendale Heights, IL – Physicians and other emergency department staff at Adventist GlenOaks Hospital are encouraging families to have a happy and safe Fourth of July by taking care to avoid injuries associated with fireworks. Eleven people died and 9,200 were treated in emergency departments across the country for fireworks-related injuries in 2006, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Many of the injured were children.

“The bright, colorful lights and booming sounds of fireworks spark excitement in children, but they don’t understand how dangerous they can be up close,” said Becky Gierling, Adventist GlenOaks Hospital’s emergency department nurse manager.

While thousands of children are injured each year due to fireworks, nearly 75 percent of these injuries occur during the month surrounding the Fourth of July. Most fireworks are illegal in Illinois, but even sparklers, which are legal, can be dangerous. Sparklers join firecrackers and rockets as those that cause the bulk of fireworks injuries requiring emergency room treatment. Fireworks-related injuries usually involve the hands/fingers, eyes or head and can sometimes result in amputations, blindness or even death.

“Every year, I am faced with the terrible task of telling parents their child will be permanently disfigured or worse due to burns by fireworks,” said Dr. Robert Kempf, an emergency medicine specialist who treats patients at Adventist GlenOaks Hospital. “Fireworks can be a fun part of a celebration, but no parent or child should have to learn about their dangers in such a painful way.”

The safest way to prevent fireworks-related injuries is to leave fireworks displays to trained professionals. Follow these tips to have a safe holiday:

  • Only adults should handle fireworks. Even sparklers, which burn at the temperature of a household match and can quickly ignite hair and clothing, aren’t safe for small children. Keep a bucket of water handy when lighting novelty fireworks. Warn children to leave the area immediately if their friends are using fireworks unsupervised.
  • Discuss safety procedures with your children. Teach them to “stop, drop and roll” if their clothes catch fire and show them how to put out fireworks by using water or a fire extinguisher. Make sure they know how to dial 911.
  • Never use fireworks indoors.
  • Never aim or throw fireworks at another person.
  • Never try to re-ignite malfunctioning fireworks. Avoid firecrackers that appear to have been wet.
  • Never carry fireworks in your pocket.
  • Only light fireworks on a smooth, flat surface away from homes, dry leaves and flammable materials. Never shoot them in metal or glass containers.

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Adventist Midwest Health includes Adventist Bolingbrook Hospital, Adventist GlenOaks Hospital, Adventist Hinsdale Hospital and Adventist La Grange Memorial Hospital.  To find a physician, visit www.keepingyouwell.com.