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Using fireworks improperly could lead to 'devastating injury,' Louisville doctor warns

Dr. Bozeman said 20 people are killed each year from improperly using fireworks, and an average of 10,000 people seek medical treatment for burns.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — It’s important to stay safe while you’re having fun this Fourth of July weekend. While fireworks are a traditional way to celebrate the holiday, using them the wrong way can be incredibly dangerous.

UofL Hospital Burn Unit Director Dr. Matt Bozeman said he often sees people come in this time of year who did not exercise caution when lighting off fireworks.

“It can be a devastating injury,” Dr. Bozeman said. “We’ve had people lose fingers, in fact, we’ve recently had a few people lose their entire hand.”

July is the busiest time of year for hand and skin injuries associated with fireworks. Dr. Bozeman said 20 people are killed each year from improperly using fireworks, and, on average 10,000 people seek medical treatment for burns.

RELATED: LIST | 4th of July weekend events happening around Kentuckiana

So, before you light the fuse, know how to use. 

First and foremost, consider the product. Make sure you're purchasing your fireworks from a reputable dealer and never use homemade ones.

Once you're ready to set off your fireworks, make sure you put them on a flat surface far away from buildings, vehicles and people.

If a firework doesn’t go off, never try to relight it.

You’ll also want to have a water source nearby like a hose or a bucket anytime you're using fireworks. Put used fireworks, or any duds, in the water before you dispose of them to avoid starting a trash fire.

Another concern is sparklers. Sparklers get as hot as 2,000 degrees and, according to Dr. Bozeman, they are the number one way kids get burned. 

“That’s hot enough to melt a lot of metals, things like aluminum will melt at 2,000 degrees,” Dr. Bozeman said.

If you do get burned while handling fireworks, UofL Health says you should do the following:

  1. Flush the burn with cool (not cold) water
  2. If there’s bleeding, apply direct pressure
  3. Remove jewelry and clothing from the injury
  4. Cover the area with dry clean sheets or loose bandages
  5. Seek medical attention

RELATED: Pet owners urged to take extra precautions during 4th of July weekend

Contact reporter Rose McBride at rmcbride@whas11.com. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

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