July 4th fireworks bring risks; AR hand surgeon explains common life-changing injuries

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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) – While fireworks are fun and patriotic on this holiday, one orthopedic hand surgeon says accidents result in significant hand and wrist injuries every year.

Last Fourth of July, Dr. Theresa Wyrick said UAMS did between 15-20 emergency surgeries just over the holiday weekend because of firework incidents.

Dr. Wyrick common injury is burns as fireworks can get up to 2,000 degrees.

“What we’ll see in addition to the burns are fractures, tendon injuries, amputations, includuing loss of the fingers or part of or the entire hand, and we see all those devastating things each year.”

Dr. Wyrick said these injuries are most common among men between the ages of 10 and 30.

“They have a lot of life ahead of them, maybe careers or sports or those sorts of things, and those things can be dramatically changed by the injuries that we see,” she said.

State Senator Jim Hendren, from northwest Benton County, has been shooting fireworks at his annual Fourth of July event for more than 20 years, but as he learned last year, accidents do not just put people at risk.

“My pickup that I’d just put in the car port-the back end was in flames.”

That scene of the burning truck coming not long after Hendren said he put fireworks he had already shot and doused with water in the bed of his truck. The fireworks were reignited while in the truck bed and the fire quickly spread- completely destroying his truck.

Photo courtesy: Jim Hendren

“Fortunately, if it was not in the car port, it would’ve likely burnt the house down and potentially injured somebody,” Hendren said.

Hendren said those scary possibilities that he avoided would have become a reality if it was not for the fire department getting to his house quickly that night.

Both Hendren and Dr. Wyrick encourage you to safely enjoy fireworks and the holiday weekend, but Dr. Wyrick leaves Arkansans with one key thing to remember as they get ready for shooting fireworks.

“Remember that these are dangerous, unpredictable things you’re dealing with when you’re discharging fireworks,” she said.

Some tips from Dr. Wyrick to stay safe shooting fireworks this weekend and in the future:

  • Douse fireworks that have already gone off with water before touching/moving them.
  • Allow allow for at least 30 minutes before touching/moving them after they have gone off.
  • If a firework does not light the first time, wait at least 20 minutes before trying to light it again in case it goes off.
  • Give yourself and your kids plenty of distance from the fireworks.
  • Keep area of fireworks clear of clutter.
  • Keep fireworks out of the hands of kids under 10 years old. For kids over 10 and into their teens, there should still be supervision.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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