TAMPA BAY, Fla — As we get closer to the 4th of July holiday weekend, many emergency rooms are gearing up for an influx of burn patients. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, 15,600 people were treated in the emergency room last year because of firework injuries.
"I've worked the last 10 4th of July holidays," Dr. Joyce Perfetti said.
Dr. Perfetti has seen a lot of the same between working in emergency rooms in the Bronx, Connecticut, and right here in Tampa. She's been at AdventHealth for two years.
"Some of the worst burn injuries I've seen in my career or have been fireworks-related," she said.
Dr. Perfetti says not only are people getting burned with very hot materials, but it's also the fact that it's exploding near or onto them. Most of the time, these injuries affect the patient's neck, hands, and face. But, sometimes patients can get internal injuries.
"If someone has their mouth open when something goes off, the soot and the heat could cause damage inside the mouth to the tongue, to the airway," Dr. Perfetti said.
She's also warning families about bad sunburns and dehydration, which send a lot of people her way. Dr. Perfetti reminds families to put on sunblock before leaving the house and reapply throughout the day. You'll also want to drink more water, especially if you plan on indulging in adult beverages.
"[Dehydration] can cause electrolyte abnormalities. It could even shut down your kidneys in really severe circumstances," Dr. Perfetti said.
Dr. Perfetti also urges better cleaning habits if you plan to use a grill. She says to make sure you buy cleaning supplies specifically for grills, don't use expired products, and try to find alternatives to wire brushes to scrub the grates.
"We had a case where there was a piece of wire, almost thin like dental floss, that got stuck in the back of somebody's throat and had to be extracted with a specialist," she said.
Dr. Perfetti told ABC Action News she prefers families leaving fireworks to the professionals, but if you plan to shoot off fireworks here are some things to keep in mind:
- Supervise kids around things like sparklers and when fireworks are not in use, put them somewhere out of reach of children
- Keep a bucket of water to douse firework duds
- If you get burned, immediately rinse the wound with cold water, wrap it in something loose and clean, then head to an emergency room where a doctor can evaluate it.