Parades, festivals, and block parties adorned with red, white, and blue are what the doctor has ordered for this Independence Day, but make sure you celebrate safely and responsibly because there are about 8,000 firework injuries each year.

Dr. Daniel London is an orthopedic hand surgeon from MU Health Care. He says the Fourth of July is the worst time of year for him.

“Firework injuries can be incredibly devastating to the patient with some significant long-term consequences in terms of reduced function, reduced body parts being available and present, and significant costs in a whole variety of ways in terms of defining costs in terms of numerous surgeries, many office visits, many therapy visits,” London says.

London says that the number of firework injuries is on the increase.

“80% of those injuries occur, typically, in people under the age of 40,” according to London. “Over half are patients, usually, under the age of 25. This is predominantly impacting young people. Of those injuries, it’s about a 50/50 mix in terms of where it most frequently occurs. Face and head injuries are very common, as are hand and arm injuries.”

He says a common misconception regarding lighting up for the Fourth includes people who think they are doing it safely.

“There’s been good data to demonstrate nationally as more fireworks sales have increased and there’s, potentially, more legal use of fireworks, the amount of injuries have increased as well,” he says. “That’s why, about five or six years ago, I think it was close to about 5,000 injuries a year, and now we’re up to 8,000.”

London says that face and head and hand and arm injuries are the most common firework accidents.

His advice is to leave the fireworks to the professionals.

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