Harborview preps for dozens of fireworks injuries

Take a moment to consider the long-term risks of lighting your own fireworks, says the hospital's medical director of emergency services.

Media Contact: Susan Gregg - 206-616-6730, sghanson@uw.edu

In recent years, Harborview Medical Center’s Emergency Department has seen an average of 65 patients with fireworks-caused injuries around the Fourth of July.  

“We normally see, unfortunately, two types of injury patterns, and large numbers of them: Injuries to the face and to the eyes and, sadly, injuries to people's hands as well,” said Dr. Steve Mitchell, the department's medical director. 

Fireworks injuries span all age groups, including young children.  

“Oftentimes, the young children that we see are really innocent bystanders,” Mitchell said. “They were participating in a party or a family gathering and a firework was set off by somebody else. And then it oftentimes will hit them in the face and affect their eyes or their face. It’s a significant problem.” 

Mitchell says the best prevention against such injuries is to avoid lighting your own fireworks and instead celebrate the holiday by enjoying a public, professionally run fireworks show.  People who do plan to use fireworks responsibly and legally should avoid mixing the activity with alcohol consumption, he urged. 

“All of these injuries are very tragic. It really impacts that person directly as well as the people that they love, and their ability to participate in life and also really care for their family and themselves.” 

Download broadcast-ready soundbites on fireworks injuries. 

UW Medicine