Experts stress rules, safety when using fireworks


MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – Fireworks are illegal within the city of Myrtle Beach, and because sparklers are considered a firework, they are also not allowed.

Even though sparklers do not explode, they can still cause severe injuries.

“Sometimes, parents think that sparklers and those types of fireworks are not dangerous, and in fact, they are and they can cause severe burns,” said Brian Mahaffey, with Grand Strand Medical Center.

A temperature as low as 109 degrees Fahrenheit can burn the skin. Sparklers can reach 20 times that heat.

“Depending on what they’re made of, they can get up to 2,000 degrees. Some are made of magnesium and other really hot metals and they can get up there and even after they burn, they can be harmful to the touch,” said Myrtle Beach Fire Rescue Lt. Jonathan Evans.

Experts at the Grand Strand Medical Center explain that most firework- and sparkler-related injuries involve the hands and face. Nationally, young adults ages 20 to 24 suffer the most firework-related injuries. From there, children age 5 and under are the second group most likely to be injured.

For those who might be injured by a firework this weekend, the Grand Strand Medical Center has advice.

“Keep it clean with cool, clean water. Don’t hesitate to get medical treatment. We’re here and they don’t have to be a trauma patient. They can go here or a local facility for treatment,” said Mahaffey.

The WMBF Investigates team decided to dig deeply into the numbers to show just how dangerous fireworks can be.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission tracks firework-related deaths and injuries. It tallied 11,100 injuries in 2016, down 800 from 2015. That’s the good news.

As for the bad news, that number is still the third-highest ever recorded. Well more than half of those 2016 injuries – 7,600 to be exact – happened between June 18 and July 18, according to the CPSC.

Reloadable shells, those big fireworks with the long fuses, accounted for more injuries than any other type. That’s followed closely by sparklers and firecrackers.

Men are more likely to be hurt, accounting for 61 percent of the recorded injuries in that single month time frame. More than half of those hurt were between the ages of 20 and 44.

A third of the injuries were to the hand or finger, while 20 percent were to the head, face or ear, and 18 percent were to the leg.

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control tracks fireworks-related injuries in the state, but the agency’s data dates back to 2010.

That year, there were 182 injuries in the state, with 83 percent of them happening to men. More than half of the injuries were reported in the summer months.

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