Experts urge safety with fireworksThey sparkle and crackle and shine and boom, but they can be dangerous too. It’s around the time America celebrates its independence and it can’t be complete without the fireworks.
By: Ben Rodgers, The Jamestown Sun
They sparkle and crackle and shine and boom, but they can be dangerous too.
It’s around the time America celebrates its independence and it can’t be complete without the fireworks. As much fun as some people have lighting them off, safety is critical during this time of year. One doctor here would like to see fewer people in the emergency room this time around.
“Occasionally we see an eye injury, burns, even sometime with explosives we see some trauma with skin issues,” said Dr. Scott Goecke, Emergency Department doctor at Jamestown Regional Medical Center.
As it gets closer to the Fourth of July, Goecke expects to see a couple of patients a day because of fireworks-related injuries.
The easiest way to avoid a burn in the eye or skin trauma on the hand is common sense, Goecke said:
* Keep a source of water on hand.
* Don’t allow young children to play with fireworks.
* Never put fireworks in your pocket.
* Never try to relight a dud.
* Never shoot fireworks at a person.
He also recommends keeping sparklers out of the hands of anyone under 12 years old. Sparklers burn at up to 2,000 degrees, which is hot enough to melt some metals — and burn skin pretty easily, he said.
“Most of the time we see burns, occasionally an eye injury, but the most we see are burns,” Goecke said.
Once in a while with more explosive fireworks, hospital staff members see skin trauma such as a finger blown off.
Those types of incidents come from the mishandling of fireworks like artillery shells.
While fireworks can hurt people, they can also damage property.
Jamestown Fire Chief Jim Reuther also said common sense is key, such as shooting all fireworks off of a solid base.
Also, Reuther said, the dry conditions make fire danger more serious.
“It’s starting to dry up,” he said. “We always try to tell them to do it in an open area and if possible have some sort of extinguishing agent there.”
The number of calls the department receives this time of year varies. Some years it’s been two or three, other times there’s been eight calls, Reuther said.
Typically the fires started are grass fires, but a boat and a garage have been recently damaged because of fireworks.
“You get some wind behind it and it doesn’t take long, that fire can spread pretty fast,” he said of blazes on open grass.
Outside of Jamestown, Rick Woehl, chief of the Jamestown Rural Fire Department, expects a few calls this year.
“With it being this dry and the heat index up it doesn’t take much to get things going,” Woehl said. “There’s plenty of fuel out there to get things going.”
Usually three or four rural calls happen during this time of the year because of fireworks, he said.
But safety is the major concern for area officials.
“I’d say the biggest thing is be careful and enjoy,” Reuther said.
The Jamestown Fire Department has inspected and approved the six locations in town selling fireworks.
Each location must have two exits, no smoking signs posted, a fire extinguisher and a sign requiring buyers to be a certain distance away from the stand before lighting fireworks off.
Six stands is right around average for Jamestown, according to Lynette Stoddart, secretary for the Jamestown city auditor’s office.
“Last year we had seven,” Stoddart said. “It’s always kind of on par with six, seven or eight, kind of around the same number every year.”
Sun reporter Ben Rodgers can be reached at 701-952-8455
or by email at email@example.com