Friday, July 06, 2001

Kids, adults hurt by fireworks

By Susan Vela
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        July Fourth is past, and parents should consider hiding all leftover fireworks or risk the consequences of their ignition.

        Thursday morning, a 25-year-old man, whose name was not being released, was seeking treatment at University Hospital because a bottle rocket exploded near his eye. Children's Hospital Medical Center treated a 4-year-old boy who suffered bleeding in the eye and potential cornea and retina damage after playing near ignited fireworks.

        Law enforcers and hospital officials agreed that July Fourth 2001 was no rowdier than usual. Deputies for the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office, for example, responded to 187 fireworks and noise complaints on July Fourth compared to 171 in 2000.

        Still, 24 fireworks injuries were treated at Greater Cincinnati hospitals. All were considered minor, but they provided a stark reminder that Roman candles and even sparklers can be dangerous.

        “These are an explosive device. Children should never be allowed to hold or ignite them,” said Dr. Constance West, director of the Pediatric Ophthalmology Department at Children's Hospital, where seven children were treated for fireworks injuries.

        She and law enforcers agreed that parents need to worry about fireworks year-round, especially if they've stashed away leftover fireworks for Labor Day, birthday parties and other festivities.

        “People generally are more educated about the dangers and the risks of using fireworks,” said Steve Barnett, spokesman for Hamilton County Sheriff's Office. “But none of them are really safe. Any kind of firework can still hurt you. Even the sparklers are very dangerous and very hot. A lot of times people just hand them out to kids and just let them go.”

        Dr. West said parents shouldn't buy fireworks. Children are curious and hiding them never works, she said.

        “The kids may sneak them (and) take them out to the woods and the next thing you know somebody has lost a hand or lost an eye,” she said.

        But if parents are determined to buy fireworks, Dr. West advises that adults only ignite them and keep a water hose and water bucket readily available.

        Barry Wood, president of the Westwood Civic Association, has a growing concern about fireworks. On July Fourth, he stood on his father-in-law's apartment balcony in White Oak and was amazed at the noise and colorful displays coming from neighbors' fireworks.

        “Some of these looked to be rather large fireworks,” he said. “You wonder, "Geesh, do they really know what they're doing? Do they realize the risk to themselves and to their neighbors?'”

        Fireworks injuries Wednesday and Thursday included eight treated at St. Elizabeth Medical Center North in Covington, three at St. Elizabeth Medical Center South in Edgewood, two each at University and Dearborn County hospitals, and one each at Christ and St. Luke West hospitals.


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