Novant Health expert offers tips to safely enjoy fireworks

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Novant Health expert Dr. Sloan Manning says by taking adequate supervision and safety measures, fewer Americans will develop firework related injuries that require medical attention.

“Don’t take chances with fireworks,” Manning said. “Everyone wants to have fun and enjoy the show, but we want to make sure it’s a safe show.”

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said that on average, 230 people a day go to the emergency room with injuries from fireworks during the month of July. More than 50 percent of those injuries are burns.

Approximately 10,500 people were treated for fireworks-related injuries at emergency rooms across the country in 2014, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

“Most of the time, we see minor burns or concussive injuries,” said Dr. Sloan Manning, a family physician and the medical director of 11 Novant Health Urgent Care and Occupational Medicine and Express Care clinics in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Most burns caused by fireworks affect the fingers and hands, and he usually sees first- and second-degree burns. More serious burns would be treated at the emergency room.

Normally, patients seen for burns are treated with burn creams and antibiotic ointments. Sometimes, the patients require a follow-up visit to make sure the wound is healing properly, the doctor said.

Manning noted that small children are the most at risk for fireworks related injuries “They are the least experienced and may be the most poorly supervised,” he said. “It’s a judgment call as to when your child may be experienced enough to handle fireworks, but it should never be without supervision.”

Even sparklers can be dangerous. In fact, about two-thirds of the injuries to children under age 5 were caused by sparklers. “Sparklers can heat to around 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit and can easily create burns,” said Manning. “Firecrackers and smoke bombs can get very hot and may explode unexpectedly.”

Manning highly recommended wearing safety glasses when handling fireworks. He also said not to buy any unlabeled fireworks packaged in brown paper. “These are professional-grade fireworks not meant for amateurs,” he said.

“If you’re going to handle fireworks this holiday season, you want to have water nearby, you want to make sure you’re using properly prepared fireworks, and you want to make sure you’re not relighting fireworks that did not go off or explode,” Manning said. “You never want to point or launch fireworks at anyone, these are dangerous projectiles.”

It is important to have adequate supervision and adequate safety measures in place.

“Don’t take chances with fireworks,” Manning said. “Everyone wants to have fun and enjoy the show, but we want to make sure it’s a safe show.”

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Jennifer Meadows
Novant Health
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