TOPEKA (KSNT) – The number of fireworks-related injuries in the United States rose dramatically last year. There’s a push to turn that around this year.
Scott Jones was one of the 15,000 people who got injured from fireworks in the nation last year. He lost four of his fingers while lighting a mortar shell in his hand. This Independence Day in Newton will look a little different for him.
“I’ve told a lot of people I will probably be in the basement just trying to watch TV. It’s not the fireworks’ fault, it was mine. But again, I just want people to be very, very safe,” Jones said.
With another big year of shooting off fireworks expected, local first responders are putting out a message before the holiday.
“Most of the mortars and stuff, they tell you to put it on the ground, light it and walk away. They give you enough fuse to walk away,” said Mickey Huber, operations manager for AMR of Topeka. “Don’t hold on to the fireworks that are meant to launch into the sky.”
Most fireworks injuries are burns, but health experts also worry about hearing damage.
“Sometimes we think those little [Black Cats], it’s just tiny, it’s not that big of a deal, that’s causing a very loud pop, a very loud pop,” said Belinda Gonzales, owner of NuSound Hearing & Tinnitus Center. “So we just say in general, all firecrackers other than maybe a sparkler, have your hearing protection on.”
Fireworks can be louder than 140 decibels. Gonzales said that is a dangerous level.
“It can take less than one second for a noise at that level to cause permanent hearing damage,” she said.
Officials are urging people to be safe and keep some distance between you and the explosive.
“Everything comes down to preparation and common sense,” Huber said.
National numbers show about seven out of 10 injuries happen to men with most being between 25 and 44 years old.