SEATTLE, June 23, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Certain legal fireworks might be better left on store shelves, a recently published study conducted at UW Medicine's Harborview Medical Center finds.
Shell-and-mortar-style fireworks caused nearly 40 percent of fireworks-related injuries resulting in hospitalization, according to a study published in The American Journal of Emergency Medicine.
Shells are sphere-shaped aerial explosives designed to be manually thrown or launched from a tube, which is called a mortar, and shell-and-mortar fireworks are legal under both federal and Washington state law.
Every year, an estimated 10,500 people are treated in hospital emergency departments for fireworks-related injuries, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. The commission said this number has remained relatively unchanged since 1999. However, there has been little data on severe fireworks injuries – those that require hospital admission.
This new study helps fill that data gap. The study led by Dr. Brinkley Sandvall, a plastic surgery resident at the UW School of Medicine, reviewed 294 people admitted to Harborview Medical Center between 2005-2015 for severe fireworks injuries. Males made up 90 percent of the patients and the mean age of participants was 24. The study found that children made up the majority of injuries by rockets (44 percent) and the majority of injuries to teenagers came from homemade fireworks (34 percent).
In many cases, severe firework injuries required multiple surgeries and caused permanent impairment, as with limb amputation or vision loss.
Dr. Sandvall said she became interested in researching fireworks injuries because of all the patients coming into the emergency room around the Fourth of July.
"We treated about 30 patients for hand injuries requiring surgery at Harborview alone during the July 4th weekend last year," she said.
The study was conducted with support from the Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center, UW Medicine departments of surgery, anesthesiology and pain medicine, the Division of Plastic Surgery and the Department of Epidemiology in the School of Public Health.
"This firework injury study is an excellent example of how real-world injuries treated at our Level I trauma center, Harborview, contribute to our knowledge of injury causes and prevention," said co-author Dr. Monica Vavilala, director of the Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center. "The next step is to apply our new knowledge to health practices, policy decisions and individual behavior."
To celebrate safely, the Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center and the Seattle Fire Department recommend leaving fireworks to the professionals. They also note that fireworks are illegal in the City of Seattle without a permit.
"Fireworks pose a serious fire hazard and safety risk to those who use them," said Seattle Fire Chief Harold Scoggins. "Each year, we respond to preventable fireworks-related injuries and fires."
The Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center (HIPRC) focuses on injury cause and prevention research and is affiliated with UW Medicine's Harborview Medical Center. Its mission is to reduce the impact of injury and violence on peopleʼs lives through research, education, training and public awareness. Learn more at www.hiprc.org.
This story can also be found at the UW Medicine newsroom by clicking here.
Contact: Susan Gregg: 206.616.6730, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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SOURCE UW Medicine