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Celebrate safely on the Fourth

Posted: July 2, 2014 - 12:07pm

Don’t end your cookout at the emergency room.

Independence Day is right around the corner, and many Faulkner County residents will celebrate their liberty by setting things on fire and blowing them up. While fireworks can be beautiful to watch, they can cause serious injury if not treated with the proper respect.

Dr. Michael Fahr, an emergency room doctor at Conway Regional Medical Center, said the most common injuries from fireworks are to hands, eyes and the hearing. Most are minor, but he responded to the scene of a very serious injury several years ago during a professional fireworks show at a local country club. A worker with the show was shot in the eye by a professional-grade mortar.

“It didn’t fire, and he looked over it, and then it did fire,” Fahr said. “It resulted in his death. We had to resuscitate him on the scene. He lived several months after that, but he was in a nursing home. He was comatose.”

Typical fireworks injuries are burns to the hand or debris in the eye that can threaten the sight, or the eardrum can experience damage from the loud popping, he said. Fahr shared a few tips for fireworks safety.

“You don’t want children using fireworks unsupervised. There’s a risk of injury and also of fire. Use them in an area where fire risk is low, and have a water hose on hand. Never hold fireworks. Light them on a stable surface and get away.”

According to fireworks safety tips from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees — hot enough to melt some metals. Parents often do not realize that children get burned by sparklers, the safety tips said. Also, do not try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully, it said.

Fahr said, “If they don’t explode, don’t look over them. And don’t fire them at people.”

LaTresha Woodruff, public information officer for the Conway Police Department, said, “As people celebrate the July Fourth holiday, they need to be mindful that city ordinance prohibits the use of fireworks in the city limits. In other words, it is illegal. And shooting guns is prohibited as well. You may be doing it in fun, but it is dangerous. What goes up comes down, and you never know where it will land. Conway Police Department is very serious about enforcing the fireworks ordinance.”

In 2013, the department had 27 fireworks calls from July 1-3 and 89 calls on July 4. The department issued five warnings and two citations on July 4, 2013, Woodruff said.

Fahr said boating injuries and four-wheeler injuries also make up a significant portion of Fourth of July visits to the emergency room. The Fourth is the ER’s busiest holiday, he added.

“We do see a lot of four-wheeler injuries, and I’d say half are related to alcohol late at night, or kids that shouldn’t be on a four-wheeler by themselves.”

Woodruff said, “If you celebrate and consume alcohol, have a designated driver. Do not get behind the wheel. And there will be zero tolerance for underage drinking. CPD kicked off its ‘Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over’ campaign June 28, and it will run through July 14. Conway Police officers will be out in force all over the city continuing their aggressive efforts to stop those who put lives in danger. CPD will have two to three additional officers working the streets. Our goal is to do all we can to make your holiday a safe one. Let’s celebrate our nation’s birthday responsibly.”

(Staff writer Rachel Parker Dickerson can be reached by email at rachel.dickerson@thecabin.net or by phone at 505-1236. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)

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