Doctors fear increase in firework injuries this 4th of July

With essentially every firework display canceled statewide, officials are worried more than ever that people will try to create their own show, resulting in potentially catastrophic injuries or worse. 

Dr. Erin Miller, a hand surgeon at UW Medical Center, Dr. Erin Miller has seen a lot of awful injuries, but nothing compares to those caused by fireworks.

“if it’s a nice clean cut, a saw, we can save a finger. When it's a firework injury there's nothing left I have to save it because it's not a clean-cut, everything is blown apart.”

The horror of mangled, burned and damaged beyond repair hands surface in the emergency room like clockwork.

“We have patients come in every year that have a complete loss of their hand. Last year I was on call for the fourth of July over a five-day stretch, we did almost 30 cases and I took off nearly 42 fingers.”

Dr. Miller says she’s very concerned this year will be even worse, with a likely increase in people setting off their own fireworks. It’s a concern the Seattle Fire Department shares.

“One-third of all injuries related to fireworks happen to people ages 15 and younger,” says David Cuerpo, a public information officer with Seattle Fire.

Last year, statewide there were 249 injuries and 8 fires caused by fireworks.

The King County Fire Marshall says fireworks caused two deaths last 4th, including a blaze in Burien that killed a man and his dog. A tragic example of how setting off fireworks puts more than just you in danger, your neighbors may suffer gravely for it.

As tempting as it may be to keep the firework tradition alive this year, Dr. Miller asks you to think about the potential consequences.

“Having to explain to patients their hand is never going to be normal again, is the hardest part of my job. Meeting with those patients after and hearing how their lives have been changed, some of them have to get new jobs or give up the hobbies that they love and enjoy, it’s heartbreaking.”