June 30, 2006

Jennifer Gremmels

Hand Surgeons Urge Hand Safety on the Fourth of July


Rosemont, Ill. - Surgeons who are members of the American Society for Surgery of the Hand (ASSH) are urging would-be Independence Day revelers to abstain from backyard fireworks displays. A recent Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) study noted that a majority of the injuries from the "consumer" fireworks involved misuse rather than malfunction.

Fireworks of some kind are legal in 44 states. But all fireworks, even sparklers, can become dangerous if used improperly. The most common backyard fireworks-firecrackers, bottle rockets and sparklers-cause 57 percent of all fireworks injuries.

"More than one-third of fireworks-related injuries include burns, lacerations, fractures and traumatic amputation to the fingers, hands or arms," says David M. Lichtman, MD, president of the American Society for Surgery of the Hand. "We encourage people to enjoy firework displays put on by their city or other organizations-to leave fireworks to the professionals."

For those still setting off fireworks on their own, the American Society for Surgery of the Hand and the National Council of Fireworks Safety offer the following tips:

1. Always buy fireworks from reputable retailers
2. Never experiment or make your own fireworks
3. While legal in most states, sparklers may reach temperatures as hot as 2,000 degrees. Keep sparklers out of the hands of children--no matter how safe an environment may seem
4. If sparklers are used, do not hold sparklers or run with them. Instead, put them in the ground
5. Be sure children and pets are out of range before lighting fireworks
6. Keep everyone away from falling debris as well. The debris will still be hot or on fire
7. When setting off fireworks, always have a bucket of water and a running hose nearby
8. Only ignite one firework at a time
9. Never relight a "dud." If a firework doesn't ignite, wait 15 minutes and soak the firework in a bucket of water
10. Dispose of spent fireworks by soaking them in water and then placing them in an outdoor trash can
11. Should an accident occur, pressure should be applied to control bleeding. Call 911 immediately

About Hand Surgeons
Hand surgeons have received specialized additional training in the treatment of hand problems in addition to their board certified specialty training in orthopedic surgery, plastic surgery, or general surgery. To become members of the American Society for Surgery of the Hand, hand surgeons must have completed a full year of such additional training and must pass a rigorous certifying examination. Many hand surgeons also have expertise with problems of the elbow, arm, and shoulder. Some hand surgeons treat only children, some treat only adults, and some treat both. Common problems treated include carpal tunnel syndrome, tennis elbow, wrist pain, sports injuries of the hand and wrist, fractures of the hand, wrist, and forearm, and trigger fingers. Other problems treated by hand surgeons include arthritis, nerve and tendon injuries, and congenital limb differences (birth defects). Not all problems treated by a hand surgeon need surgery. Hand surgeons often recommend non-surgical treatments, such as medication, splints, therapy, and injections. Hand surgeons are specialists devoted to hand care.

About the ASSH
The mission of the American Society for Surgery of the Hand (ASSH) is to advance the science and practice of hand surgery through education, research and advocacy on behalf of patients and practitioners. Founded in 1946, the American Society for Surgery of the Hand is the oldest medical specialty society in the United States devoted entirely to continuing medical education related to hand surgery.