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Leave the fireworks in the hands of trained professionals

June 29, 2015
Fireworks over Springfield

SPRINGFIELD – Looking for safety tips when handling fireworks? Look no further.

In Massachusetts, all consumer fireworks are illegal.

“Don’t break the law. Leave the lighting to trained professionals and take your family to sanctioned public fireworks displays,” said Dr. Ronald Gross, chief, Trauma, Acute Care Surgery and Surgical Critical Care at Baystate Medical Center.

“Those who illegally attempt to capture the excitement of Fourth of July community fireworks displays in their own backyard are risking serious injuries, especially to children,” added Mandi Summers, co-coordinator, Safe Kids of Western Mass., headquartered at Baystate Children’s Hospital.

Unfortunately, there are those who continue to break the law each year. By setting off illegal fireworks, they are risking serious injury to themselves and others, as well as the real possibility of starting a fire, noted Dr. Gross.

“Fireworks are extremely dangerous, especially in the hands of youngsters or even adults who are not professionally trained in their use. Fireworks involve explosions, accelerants and projectiles, and they can result in serious burns and other devastating injuries, lifelong disabilities, and even death. What is so upsetting is that all of this is completely preventable,” said Dr. Gross.

If for any reason a fireworks accident occurs, seek medical attention immediately, regardless of the severity of the injury. Do not rub or rinse out the eyes which can cause further damage. Pressure should be applied to control bleeding, but should be avoided on the area around the eye. Do not use any kind of aspirin or ibuprofen, which can cause blood thinning and potentially increase any bleeding that is present. Using ointments and medications are not recommended, as they can make the area around the eye slippery and interfere with the doctor’s examination.

Some parents also question the safety of bringing babies to fireworks, whose booming explosions and flashes of light might be too loud and startling for little ones.

“While the decibels are great as fireworks explode in the night skies, the noise level shouldn’t be enough to damage your baby’s hearing. The best thing is to be as far away as possible from where the fireworks are actually being launched,” said Dr. Jerry Schreibstein of Ear, Nose &Throat Surgeons of Western New England, and a member of the Baystate Medical Center medical staff.

“Young children may find the loud noise of fireworks more frightening than exciting. This, combined with a disrupted sleep schedule from staying up late to watch the fireworks display, may lead to some cranky behaviors the next day,” added Dr. Patrick Brown, a pediatrician in the division of Behavioral and Developmental Pediatrics at Baystate Children’s Hospital.

In addition, Dr. Brown noted some children with special needs, such as Williams Syndrome or Autistic Spectrum Disorder, can be especially bothered by loud noises and might be overwhelmed by fireworks.

“If you know that your child is sensitive to loud noises, consider allowing them to muffle the sound or watch the fireworks from a distance to make the noise and bright lights less intense. It may also be helpful to talk to them about what to expect at a fireworks display, and even show examples on the computer where they can better manage the intensity of the experience before viewing the real thing,” he said.

For more information on Baystate Medical Center, visit www.baystatehealth.org/bmc, and for more information on Baystate Children’s Hospital, visit www.baystatehealth.org/bch.