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Wed. Jul. 23 1:59 pm
Monday, July 2, 2012

Sparklers rank No. 1 cause of injuries from fireworks, report says

Staff Writer
SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
Dr. Ben Casella demonstrates at what distance to safely hold a sparkler. He says anyone using sparklers should wear long sleeves, protective eyewear and a glove.

Watch the brilliant fireworks displays on the Fourth of July, but don’t get too close.

According to a report from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, an estimated 9,600 injuries from fireworks were treated in 2011. About 64 percent of the injuries occurred within 30 days of July 4.

Sparklers, which burn at temperatures up to 1,800 degrees, were the No. 1 cause of fireworks injuries that required trips to the emergency room. An estimated 1,100 emergency room visits were related to sparklers, the report said.

Firework injuries are the most common burns treated at the Joseph M. Still Burn Center at Doctors Hospital during the week of July 4, said Beretta Coffman, a physicians assistant at the center.

“Truly, there is no safe firework. The ones we tend to give our children like sparklers and less explosive ones are also the hottest,” Coffman said.

Sparkler burns are often small, but very deep. The sticks remain hot long after the sparks die, which lead to injuries when people accidentally step on used sparklers or pick up the wrong end of the sparkler, Coffman said.

Georgia law allows sparklers of 100 grams or less but prohibits firecrackers, skyrockets, Roman candles – basically, anything that explodes or shoots into the sky.

The most injured body parts are hands, fingers, heads, faces and eyes.

Thirty-six percent of the injuries were to people younger than age 20, the study said.

Some of the most common injuries are eye abrasions, lacerations, contusions and foreign matter in the eye.

According to optometrist Ben Casella, of Casella Eye Cen­ter of Augusta, sparklers are often held too close to the face.

Embers can get into the eye and cause corneal injuries that can lead to permanent damage if not treated.

“Parents have a false sense of security because they think sparklers don’t get as hot and don’t have projectiles, when in reality there are thousands of projectiles from a sparkler,” he said.

People who suspect an eye injury should see a doctor immediately, Casella said.

He recommended anyone using sparklers should wear long sleeves, protective eyewear and a glove.

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