Safety advocates worry about higher than average injuries from backyard fireworks

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COLUMBUS (WCMH)–An annual warning about 4th of July safety is coming with increased concern for fireworks-related injuries.

Wednesday, the Ohio affiliate of Prevent Blindness hosted speakers at the Franklin County Dog Shelter to educate the public about the dangers of fireworks. Animal advocates talked about the annual uptick they see in runaway pets and injuries, because of fireworks. First responders, pediatric doctors and victims also voiced concerns about human injuries.

In 2019, an annual report showed at least 10,000 Americans ended up in emergency rooms with fireworks-related injuries during the one-month period surrounding the Independence Day holiday. More than one-third of the injuries were reported in children under the age of 15.

A representative from the Central Ohio Fire Prevention Association demonstrated the dangers during the Wednesday press conference. Using a hot dog to represent human skin, he explained even a simple sparkler can reach temperatures hotter than 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit and cause up to third degree burns. Sparkler burns are one of the most common firework-related injuries for children under five years of age.

Eric Rathburn also gave testimony Wednesday about his own experience. The Columbus man was hit in his right eye by a firework during a 4th of July house party in 2009. He needed emergency surgery and still has vision issues because of the accident.

“We didn’t think much of it when we were kids, but it’s totally changed once something happened,” Rathburn said.

With the COVID-19 health crisis cancelling many professional firework displays, safety advocates worry about an increase in amateurs handling the explosives, even though it’s illegal in Ohio. Rathburn recommends avoiding lighting your own fireworks and urges people to never handle fireworks if you’ve been drinking alcohol.

“I would recommend not shooting them off and just let the professionals do it,” he said. “But if you do, just be really careful if you shoot them off. Have water close by, have all of the preparations, even 911, ready in case something happens.”

Learn more about fireworks safety here.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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