‘Fingers have fallen off:’ UW doctor urges fireworks safety

Jul 2, 2024, 5:57 PM | Updated: 6:23 pm

Photo: Doctors are gearing up for fireworks-related injuries....

Doctors are gearing up for fireworks-related injuries. (Photo: @jeff_golden via Flickr Creative Commons)

(Photo: @jeff_golden via Flickr Creative Commons)

Harborview Medical Center is gearing up for the annual wave of fireworks-related injuries. Every year surrounding the Fourth of July, the hospital sees about 55 patients with burns and injuries to their hands and eyes, University of Washington (UW) Medicine stated in a news release on Tuesday.

Doctors said most of the people who ended up injured, or worse killed, were not sober when they set off fireworks.

“They’re using alcohol and other drugs and that really does not mix well with fireworks,” Dr. Stephen Morris, an emergency medicine specialist at UW Medicine in Seattle, said. “So we just do see more injuries when those things are happening together.”

Morris added many of the injuries are avoidable and are caused by people trying to push their limits or do something dangerous. He said some of the injuries are pretty gruesome.

“Literally their fingers have fallen off, by their fireworks, and they just have essentially the stub of the finger left behind, many of these cannot be fixed,” Morris said.

Buehner: Glorious 4th of July weather predicted; 90-degree days are coming

Morris said that sometimes fingers are completely blown off.

“Parts are just destroyed by the explosion of the firework and they end up with an amputated finger or worse maybe even an amputated hand,” Morris said.

Many of the injuries, Morris noted, come from M-80s. People also get hurt when they approach fireworks that don’t go off. The best advice from emergency room doctors is to leave the pyrotechnics to the professionals.

“So don’t play with fireworks don’t hold them in your hands, don’t use them around children and then you won’t get hurt,” Morris said.

Fire marshal: Properly handling and disposing of fireworks

The State Fire Marshal’s Office said, via a news release on Tuesday, that those who do use fireworks should clean up and dispose of them properly.

The office recommended keeping a water source nearby, such as a bucket of water or a hose, cleaning up all used fireworks and debris and letting used fireworks cool down for at least 15 to 20 minutes before handling. Also, soaking used fireworks overnight in a bucket of water and making sure the fireworks are completely submerged.

The office also suggested double bagging fireworks when throwing them away, disposing of discharged fireworks in a metal garbage can for pick up and returning to the site the next day for additional clean up.

But where can you set off fireworks in Washington? Visit this MyNorthwest article to find out.

Contributing: Aaron Granillo, KIRO Newsradio

Julia Dallas is a content editor at MyNorthwest. You can read her stories here. Follow Julia on X here and email her here.

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