MADISON (WKOW)-- Independence Day is upon us and you know what that means, fireworks, lots of fireworks. They seem harmless enough, but medical experts warn that even the weakest of fireworks pose a danger.
"A lot of burns to the hands, amputations sometimes. Also, head and face injuries. We'll see those as well. Eye injuries are also common," UW Health Emergency Medicine Physician Mary Westergaard says.
Doctors at UW Health expect to see between 5 and 10 firework related injuries during the 4th of July weekend. It's why they keep a normal staff on duty despite the holiday. Most accidents however, go unreported because patients are afraid they will get into trouble.
"I think the eye injuries and the hand burns are things that people might say 'oh, I'll just manage this at home,' but those things probably should come in," Dr. Westergaard says.
In Wisconsin, you can buy all sorts of fireworks to celebrate Independence Day. However, each city and town has its own set of rules for which ones you can use. Firework users should research local guidelines before launching fireworks this weekend.
"If it goes up or blows up it's illegal," Madison Fire Department Division Chief Mike Dibble says. "That's kind of the city of Madison rule. The fine is $187.50 if you possess or blow off these fireworks"
According to the latest numbers from the National Fire Protection Association, more than 8,700 people injured by fireworks in 2012. Fireworks also caused around $32 million in nationwide property damage in 2011.
"Once they go up in the air and come down, you're really never sure if they are out. They do cause fires," Dibble explains.
Firefighters say the most underestimated firework is the sparkler. Children often play with them on the 4th of July. Parents should be aware they can reach temperatures well over 1300 degrees.
"Other things that people don't think about is those sparkler sticks get really hot so you throw it in the grass, a child could walk on it and sustain a pretty severe burn to the foot," Dr. Westergaard says.
The biggest age group for injuries is 15-24 years old. Followed closely by children under 10. If accidents do happen this weekend, doctors encourage people to seek help immediately no matter how bad they think the injury is.
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