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Study Shows "Legal" Shells & Mortar Fireworks Cause Most Injuries
July 01, 2017

Top Photo: Demonstration by National Fire Protection Association showing how dangerous legal, consumer grade fireworks are. Bottom: Hands badly injured from fireworks accident. Still image from UW Medicine produced video on fireworks injuries.
This report was first published as a front page Feature Story on 6/22/17

Editor's note 7/5/17:
We received a VM from a guy the other day who said he was a professional pyrotechnician. That's a person who's legally qualified to put on those big commercial fireworks shows like they have in Seattle.
But being it was a voice mail, he could have been an undertaker, a bartender or a member of a local knitting club for all we know.

In any event, pyro man said he LOVED the mighty Sky Valley Chronicle (as all sensible folks do) but he spanked us a bit on this story and said he thought it was misleading because, according to him, the study showed it was the MISUSE of certain fireworks that caused all the injuries in this study, not just using the fireworks themselves.

Said we should make that point clear.

We beg to differ. "Misuse" is a qualitative aspect of using fireworks (or tequila for that matter) and we doubt that every emergency room doctor in this study - when a patient came in to the ER with fingers blown off, dripping buckets of blood and screaming like a mad man from pain - took the time to diligently quiz each bloody and now-disfigured patient on their precise handling of the fireworks that blew off little Johnnie's fingers to determine proper or misuse of said fireworks.

Even if they did, a person gushing blood, with his fingers still back at the beach becoming lunch for a local coyote and a mind crazed with pain and anguish is not going to be able to clearly recall if he/she misused or properly used the stupid fireworks.
That said, we think pyro man actually has a point: your chances of blowing off your fingers or hands or going blind will be substantially reduced if you MAKE SURE you are FOLLOWING DIRECTIONS on the fireworks box to the proverbial T on how to set those babies off.

So there ya go. Original story is below.

Annual flood of trauma cases around July Fourth informed research conducted at Harborview Medical Center

(SEATTLE, WA.) -- New research conducted at UW Medicine’s Harborview Medical Center suggests that if you want to keep all your fingers on both hands - or your eyes in tact and able to see the world - certain legal fireworks might best be left on store shelves.

According to the new study published in The American Journal of Emergency Medicine, regular off-the-shelf, legal, consumer grade shell-and-mortar-style combustibles caused nearly 40 percent of fireworks-related injuries resulting in hospitalization at Harborview which is the regional trauma center hospital in western Washington.

Shells are those spherical aerial explosives designed to be manually thrown or launched from a tube, called a mortar. Shell-and-mortar fireworks are legal under federal and Washington state law.

But being legal doesn't necessarily mean they are "safe" for use.

Every year, about 10,500 people are treated in emergency departments across the nation for fireworks injuries, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

This number has remained relatively unchanged since 1999. However, little data exists on severe fireworks injuries that require hospital admission.

Thus this new study that reviewed the cases of 294 people admitted to Harborview Medical Center for severe fireworks injuries from 2005 to 2015.

Some items from the study:

.....Patients’ mean age was 24, and males accounted for 90 percent of injuries.

.....Among adults’ fireworks injuries, 98 (86 percent) involved shell-and-mortar explosives. The majority of children’s injuries came from rockets; teens sustained most serious injuries from homemade fireworks.

.....In many cases, severe injuries required multiple surgeries and caused permanent impairment, such as limb amputation or vision loss.

..... The study’s lead author is Dr. Brinkley Sandvall, a plastic surgery resident at the University of Washington School of Medicine. Harborview’s annual surge of emergency-department patients around the Fourth of July spurred her interest in fireworks research. “We treated about 30 patients for hand injuries requiring surgery during the July Fourth weekend last year,” she said.

The Seattle Fire Department recommends leaving fireworks to the professionals. “Fireworks pose a serious fire hazard and safety risk to those who use them,” said Seattle Fire Chief Harold Scoggins

Below is a link to a UW Medicine produced video titled "Study: Legal shells-and-mortars cause most severe fireworks injuries."



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