Firework Injuries and the Emergency Department

Each year when the 4th of July rolls around in the United States, people are thinking about celebrating the country’s Independence Day – there are parades and picnics and parties, and of course, fireworks. Yet, if you currently are a doctor in emergency medicine, or you are considering looking to become a physician in emergency medicine, the 4th of July not only is a day of celebration but a busy day full of injuries to treat in the emergency department. Sometimes firework injuries happen as a result of people handling them unsafely, and other times the injuries are because of a malfunction with the actual fireworks. In fact, in the last week of June, a total of 36,100 units of TNT Red, White and Blue fireworks were recalled because they might explode unexpectedly. Here are some other interesting facts about fireworks, and how you can prepare for a busy day in the emergency department!


firework injuries


Facts about Firework Injuries

Research on firework injuries happens year-round. Although most of them are happening in July, they do happen at other times of the year as well. The research is tracked through a National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, which tracks about 100 hospitals in the U.S.

Most common firework injuries

The most common firework injury you will likely see in the emergency department is a thermal burn. Other injuries tracked include sparklers accidentally getting into someone’s eyes to an explosion in someone’s hands.

Who gets hurt?

Unfortunately, children get hurt by firework injuries the most. The data shows that the most common age to be injured by fireworks is about 12 years old.

Safe states: State laws vary

What state are you working in? Some states are better than others in having laws about fireworks. For example, in New Jersey, it’s illegal to buy or sell fireworks at all, but in Texas, all or most fireworks are allowed for sale and purchase.

Efficiency in the Emergency Department

If you are working in the emergency department during a busy holiday like the 4th of July, there are some things you can do to make sure you are ready for the influx of patients.

1.     Prepare Early

Before the rush of patients comes in, make sure you have everything ready to go. Are the rooms stocked with whatever gauze or tools you may need to treat burn victims?

2.     Stay Focused

It’s easy to get distracted or overwhelmed when things get crazy. As an emergency medicine physician, you’re used to this. Busy days can be even harder though, so try to stay focused, and don’t let the stress get to you.

3.     Be Flexible

Make sure you help out your team members if they need help, and be prepared to step outside of your normal role in the emergency department. When things get crazy, and there is a heightened sense of urgency, it is important that everyone be prepared to do what it takes to get the job done.

4.     Take Care of Yourself

You can’t take care of others if you’re not taking care of yourself. Make sure you have enough to eat and drink and take a break to breathe if you need to. This will help you to work more efficiently.


What was the craziest holiday you’ve ever worked in the emergency department? How did you get through it?

Author: Lenay Ruhl

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