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Fireworks and 4th of July: Experts share growing safety concerns

Posted at 10:47 PM, Jul 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-01 23:36:30-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — As the July 4th holiday weekend approaches, there are growing safety concerns of at-home use of fireworks by both experts and officials as many major firework shows are canceled due to COVID-19.

Last year, there were an estimated 10,000 fireworks-related injuries in America’s emergency rooms, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Committee. Data also showed, 73% of the same injuries happened in the month around the 4th of July.

“There’s really no way to say you can be safe with fireworks, which is why we always start the conversation with you gotta leave it to the professionals,” Dr. Kathryn Bass said. She has served as Medical Director of Trauma at Oishei Children’s Hospital for 10 years.

Every year it seems the main message from experts is to leave the spectacular displays to the professionals. With complications from the pandemic, experts are now promoting alternative ways to enjoy the festivities of the holiday including simply watch it on television.

“Let the professionals do the fireworks and now just watch them on TV,” Erie County Health Commissioner, Dr. Gale Burstein, said.

On Monday, Governor Andrew Cuomo also warned New Yorkers about firework usage.

“I want to remind New Yorkers that fireworks are dangerous and fireworks are illegal,” Cuomo said. While most fireworks are illegal, sparkling devices are allowed to be sold and used under state law.

“There’s no good way to be safe with a sparkler because you’re basically putting something in the hands of a child that has the potential to burn them…you’re talking about the kind of temperatures you would get from the tip of a welding iron,” Dr. Bass said.

She said children should never be around any type of fireworks.

“I usually like to promote the glow sticks because the kids are just as fascinated with the glow sticks and can have a lot of fun with those,” Dr. Bass added.

AMR Western New York agrees with Dr. Bass. Chief of EMS for AMR Western New York, Scott Karaszewski, said: “Obviously 2020 has been an unknown for a lot of people, so we’ll just remain vigilant. Be prepared to handle any calls that come in and respond to them accordingly.

AMR Western New York shared these tips to keep loved ones safe if legal fireworks are being used.

  • In case of an accident, keep water nearby
  • Wear eye protection
  • If under the influence of alcohol or drugs, do not use fireworks
  • Do not try to relight “dud” fireworks
  • Ignite only one firework at a time
  • Never throw, point or aim fireworks at people, animals, vehicles, or structures
  • Follow all instructions on the package
  • Never give children fireworks

“Please just adhere to the laws and maintain all safety measures as possible,” Karaszewski said.

Dr. Burstein also weighed in Wednesday afternoon: “It’s a long weekend for everybody including our first responders so let’s be safe and give them a break and not have to call 911 and go to the hospital.”

If any type of fireworks-related injury do occur, experts encourage people to go to the hospital immediately for treatment.