‘It’s completely unpredictable’: Emergency Room Doctors Brace For Fireworks Related Injuries

Sanford Health says one of their busiest days in the emergency room was this past Memorial Day. Now they’re bracing for another active weekend. With more fireworks being used, this holiday has an even greater potential for injuries.

“We’re definitely anticipating a busy weekend,” said Sanford Emergency Medicine Dr. Aaron Stinton.

Emergency Room Doctors at both Sanford and Avera say they can see several firework related injuries over the fourth of July holiday or some years none at all.

“It’s completely unpredictable,” said Sanford Emergency Room Doctor Chris Carlisle.

Last year, from July 1 through July 8 Sanford had five people come through their doors.

Carlisle said, “When people burn themselves, they usually don’t go the E.R., they just kind of butter up with some Aloe Vera or whatever, it’s only the more severe ones that end up in our hands.”

When they do treat someone, it’s typically for hand injuries and burns.

Avera Emergency Medicine Dr. Jared Friedman said, “Especially for the smaller children, sparklers are great and they’re safe and things like that but sparklers do reach a very high temperature and can cause very serious burns.”

Even worse, the doctors have seen injuries to the eye, the most devastating and permanent.

“If a bottle rocket hits you somewhere it probably won’t injure you except for a minor burn, unless it’s your eye,” said Carlisle.

Avera Emergency Medicine Dr. Jared Friedman said, “Last year, our ophthalmologist that was on call probably would tell you that was one of the worst call days that he’s had because of eye injuries.”

Doctors say a lot of them are caused by misusing fireworks, when people modify them, or by just being irresponsible.

“Making sure you’re sober while handling them is probably a good way to prevent injury,” said Stinton.

City officials say an average of 230 people nationwide go to the emergency room each day with a firework related injury around the 4th of July holiday. Of those injuries, 36 percent occurred to the hand or finger, 26 percent to the arm or leg, 19 percent to the eye and 19 percent to the head, face or ear.