LV doctor warns about use of fireworks

Las Vegas doctor Ryan Grabow has seen the damage fireworks can do to people.

Every year there are approximately 9,000 injuries related to consumer fireworks, with the peak occurring the weeks around the July 4th holiday (June 18th to July 18th).

Although firecrackers and rockets can be more destructive, sparklers, fountains, and novelties cause the most injuries requiring a trip to the emergency room. Sparklers alone are the cause of over half the fireworks related injuries to children under 5 and 46 percent of all injuries to children under 15. In order to help parents prevent these injuries, Grabow, founder of the Hand to Shoulder Center has created a new educational website section for injury prevention and education and safety tips.

“While most parents recognize the inherent dangers of firecrackers and bottle rockets, many fail to see the risks sparklers pose to young children,” Grabow said. “The glowing flame on a sparkler may look pretty, but it is over 1800 degreees F which is hot enough to melt glass or aluminum. This intense heat translates into very severe burns that cause permanent damage to young hands.”

Burns to the hands and fingers are the most common injuries, accounting for 20 percent of all fireworks injuries and more than 40 percent of injuries related to sparklers according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Grabow believes the solution is better education. “The parents of injured children always say they didn’t realize sparklers were so dangerous, yet these same parents would never think of letting their young child hold a lit candle or get near the stove or grill because they know the risks,” he said. “As a community, we need to do a better job educating parents on the risk of sparklers, just like we did for firecrackers, stoves, and grills.”

Visit for articles on fireworks safety, multimedia resources and fireworks and sparkler safety tips.

Here are some of those safety tips:

• Sparklers should only be used under direct adult supervision.

• Never hold a child in your arms if you or the child are using sparklers.

• Never hold or light more than one sparkler at a time.

• Never hand a lighted sparkler to someone. Give them an unlit sparkler and light it for them.

• Teach children to hold sparklers away from their body with one hand at full arm’s length.

• Always stand at least 6 feet away from anyone when using sparklers.

• Never throw, twirl, or wave sparklers. Especially ones with wooden sticks that can easily break.

• Always wear closed-toe-shoes when using sparklers. Burns to feet are common when burnt sparklers are left on the ground for others to step on.

• Sparklers should be dropped directly in a bucket of water after the flame goes out. The wire and stick remain hot long after it stops burning.