Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Why You Should Leave the July Fourth Fireworks Display to the Experts

Loyola trauma physician warns about the risks from sparklers, bottle rockets, cherry bombs, firecracker, larger explosive devices

MAYWOOD, Ill. -- July 4th is again approaching and emergency departments across the state are already beginning to treat patients injured by fireworks.

In 2009, nearly 100 people in Illinois were rushed to hospitals with injuries caused by fireworks, according to the Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshall (OSFM). Across the United States, close to 10,000 people were injured and 11 deaths were reported, according to the latest figures from the Centers for Disease Control.

"Fireworks are basically explosives and all are capable of causing severe injuries, but even minor injuries can cause significant disability when it comes to sight and hand function," said trauma surgeon Dr. Thomas Esposito of Loyola University Medical Center. "Even fireworks that are classified as 'safer,' such as bottle rockets and sparklers, are responsible for some of the most serious wounds treated by emergency physicians."

Esposito added that over the years, trauma and burn physicians at Loyola have treated hundreds of types of fireworks-injuries, including loss of sight and hearing, loss of fingers, toes and limbs, third-degree burns, fractures, lacerations and permanent scarring.

"But there are many more people injured by fireworks who never come to an emergency department to be treated," said Esposito, who is also a professor of surgery and chief of the division of trauma, surgical critical care and burns in the Department of Surgery, Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine in Maywood. "Many fireworks injuries are not reported, though, so there were probably many more."

In addition, fireworks are responsible for more than 1,700 structure fires and about 650 vehicle fires each year, according to the OSFM. Generally, more fires in the U.S. are reported on Independence Day than on any other day of the year, with fireworks accounting for than half, more than any other cause.

"Unfortunately, drinking alcohol and engaging in risky behavior are popular activities on holidays, especially among the young. We’ve all heard the message that 'drinking and driving don't mix,'" Esposito said. "The same goes for drinking and setting off fireworks. If you’re too impaired to drive, you’re too impaired to set off fireworks."

"Even minor injuries to the hands and particularly the thumbs can cause major problems with the essential activities of life, like texting and buttoning your shirt. Those are major functional losses," Esposito added.

About Loyola University Health System

Loyola University Health System (LUHS) is part of Trinity Health. Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, LUHS is a quaternary care system with a 61-acre main medical center campus, the 36-acre Gottlieb Memorial Hospital campus and more than 30 primary and specialty care facilities in Cook, Will and DuPage counties. Loyola University Medical Center’s campus is conveniently located in Maywood, 13 miles west of Chicago’s Loop and 8 miles east of Oak Brook, Ill. At the heart of the medical center campus is a 559-licensed-bed hospital that houses a Level 1 Trauma Center, a Burn Center and the Ronald McDonald® Children's Hospital of Loyola University Medical Center. Also on campus are the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, Loyola Outpatient Center, Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine and Loyola Oral Health Center as well as Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, Loyola University Chicago Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. Loyola's Gottlieb campus in Melrose Park includes the 255-licensed-bed community hospital, the Professional Office Building housing 150 private practice clinics, the Adult Day Care, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park.

Trinity Health is a national Catholic health system with an enduring legacy and a steadfast mission to be a transforming and healing presence within the communities we serve. Trinity is committed to being a people-centered health care system that enables better health, better care and lower costs. Trinity Health has 88 hospitals and hundreds of continuing care facilities, home care agencies and outpatient centers in 21 states and 119,000 employees.