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Don't spend July 4th in the emergency room

Each July brings dozens of kids to University Hospital’s Children’s Emergency Department with blast injuries and burns from fireworks. Stay safe this year by leaving fireworks to the pros.

(SAN ANTONIO, TX) They’re loud, exciting and colorful — steeped in the traditions of our nation’s Independence Day celebrations. We’re talking fireworks, of course. Unfortunately, they also send some 3,000 children a year to emergency rooms across the country with painful burns and blast injuries that are completely avoidable.

You can still enjoy the spectacle while keeping your kids safe, said Dr. Lillian Liao, pediatric trauma and burn director at University Hospital, and assistant professor of surgery at UT Health San Antonio.

“As we enjoy the company of our family and friends, barbecue and watermelon — all in celebration of our freedom this July 4th weekend — remember to leave the fireworks to the professionals,” Dr. Liao said. “Each year, children of all ages become injured by home fireworks.”

Public fireworks displays offer spectacular family entertainment without the risk of injury and fire damage. Most are free. The city’s official July 4 celebration and fireworks show will be held at Woodlawn Lake Park. You can find other events throughout the area listed by Alamo City Moms Blog.

On average, about 40 patients a day are treated for fireworks-related burns at University Hospital’s Emergency Department and pediatric trauma center throughout the month of July. University Hospital operates the region’s only Level I pediatric trauma center and burn program.

For those determined to buy and use fireworks, closely supervise children at all times. Sparklers — often considered safe — cause lots of injuries to small children, burning at temperatures greater than 1,000 degrees, Dr. Liao said. Consider giving them glow sticks instead

Older kids are just as much at risk with other types of fireworks. “Roman candles and bottle rockets can cause serious eye injuries, including blindness and severe burns,” Dr. Liao said. Never let your child put his or her face near a lit firework or hold it in their hands.

And keep a bucket of water and a fire extinguisher close by. Fire danger is elevated in the summer months.

Better yet, take your lawn chairs and ice chests, and enjoy the spectacle of a professional fireworks show as a family, Dr. Liao suggests. “Let’s have a fun and safe Independence Day!”

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