Every year at this time, Seattle and King County medics can be heard rushing to the scene of fireworks-related injuries. It happened again, just last Friday night. A patient was Airlifted to Harborview and now faces a long recovery at the Harborview Burn Center.
Like firefighters and medics, burn doctors and nurses stand ready to serve. Their doors are always open for those in need. But every 4th of July, they really don’t want to be popular. For them, the fewer people, the better.
According to Dr. Tam Pham at Harborview’s Burn Center, there were 50 fireworks-related injuries in June and July, 2019. Forty-four of them occurred in the one-week period leading up to the holiday. More than half of all injuries were to the hands and face.
“The issue is that people play around with fireworks very soon after they purchase them and long after the 4th of July,” said Pham. “Those injured in the pelvis/groin/thigh region were usually holding them in their lap.”
Twenty people were admitted to Harborview’s Burn Center last year, with seven suffering either partial or full amputations of their fingers or hands. This year, at least two amputations have already occurred.
With public displays canceled and the spread of COVID-19 continuing, the team at the Burn Center hopes people can celebrate safely – in small groups of 5 or less, with sparkling beverages versus sparklers that burn at 1800 to 3000 degrees Fahrenheit!
Although personal use of fireworks has long been banned in Seattle, many still choose to endanger their homes, friends and family by lighting them up themselves. The risk of fire and injury in densely-populated urban centers gets compounded when this happens. This year, more than ever, there is no room for amateurs – Stay Home and Stay Safe!