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Hand Experts at MedStar Union Memorial Hospital Stress Fireworks Safety to Consumers This Fourth of July

BALTIMORE, MD -- (Marketwired) -- 06/25/14 -- As Independence Day nears, the hand and extremity experts at The Curtis National Hand Center at MedStar Union Memorial Hospital gear up for a common influx of patients suffering from fireworks-related trauma. A tradition synonymous with the celebration of the Fourth of July, fireworks leave many with devastating and life-altering injuries each year.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), fireworks-related injuries sent more than 10,507 people to U.S. emergency departments in 2013. Of those injuries, 44 percent were to the hands and fingers.

While some fireworks injuries can be treated, hand injuries often result in permanent, irreparable damage. Usually affecting the dominant hand, injuries from firework explosions can result in fingers torn from the hand or large areas of the palm being ripped apart, leading to significant damage to nerves and tendons.

"Typically, the injuries we see as a result of fireworks-related trauma are so devastating that the only option is to amputate substantial portions of what's injured," said Raymond Wittstadt, MD, attending hand surgeon at The Curtis National Hand Center. "Even the most skilled surgeons cannot reattach fingers that have been blown off, when there is little to reattach to."

The key to safety is common sense and awareness. It is important to remember there is no such thing as completely safe fireworks. Even sparklers and bottle rockets, backyard fireworks often considered safe for young children, were the culprits of about 1,000 of the reported injuries last year. Sparklers, a commonly used handheld firework, especially among children, can burn at about 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit

"Many people each year pay a very high price for a few minutes of well-intentioned fun," Dr. Wittstadt added. "The safest way to enjoy the festivities this Fourth of July is to leave fireworks in the hands of the professionals."

The experts of The Curtis National Hand Center stress these important safety tips provided by the National Council on Fireworks Safety:

  • Always purchase fireworks from a reliable source.
  • Use fireworks as directed on consumer product safety label; never alter products.
  • Observe local laws and use good common sense.
  • Have a designated shooter to organize and shoot your family show.
  • A responsible adult should supervise all firework activities.
  • Parents should not allow young children to handle or use fireworks.
  • Alcohol and fireworks do not mix. Save your alcohol for after the show.
  • Use fireworks outdoors in a clear area; away from buildings and vehicles.
  • Never carry fireworks in your pocket.
  • Wear safety glasses whenever using fireworks.
  • Always have water ready if you are shooting fireworks.
  • Do not experiment with homemade fireworks.
  • Never relight a "dud" firework. Wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water.
  • Soak spent fireworks with water before placing them in an outdoor trash can.
  • Report illegal explosives, like M-80s and quarter sticks, to the fire or police department.

Click here to learn more about The Curtis National Hand Center, or call 877-864-HAND for a physician referral.

About The Curtis National Hand Center

Since 1975, people all over the world have placed their hands in ours - The Curtis National Hand Center. From repairing traumatic injuries to treating repetitive motion injuries, arthritic conditions and congenital differences, our goal is to restore the patient's use of the hand, wrist, arm, elbow and shoulder to the greatest degree possible. Our long history of experience, outstanding medical staff, and state-of-the-art facilities combine to create a treatment center that is the first choice in caring for the hand or arm, no matter how common or complex.

Today, The Curtis National Hand Center is recognized as the largest, most experienced hand center in the nation. In fact, the hand center was designated by Congress as the National Center for the Treatment of the Hand and Upper Extremity.

About MedStar Union Memorial Hospital

MedStar Union Memorial Hospital is a not-for-profit, 249-bed acute care teaching hospital with a strong emphasis on cardiac care, orthopaedics and sports medicine. As one of the region's top specialty hospitals, MedStar Union Memorial has been caring for members of the community for more than 160 years.

We are renowned for The Curtis National Hand Center, Harry & Jeanette Weinberg Heart Institute, and our Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine program. In addition, we offer a comprehensive range of inpatient and outpatient services including diabetes and endocrinology, eye surgery, general surgery, oncology, thoracic surgery, vascular surgery and palliative care.

MedStar Union Memorial was among the highest rated Maryland hospitals based on Consumer Reports rankings in 2013, and is the only hospital in Maryland to receive the Delmarva Foundation's highest honor, the Excellence Award for Quality for Hospitals, for six years in a row.

MedStar Union Memorial has ranked among the nation's top 50 "Best Hospitals" by U.S. News & World Report, earning national recognition for seven consecutive years. Our excellence in care also has been recognized by the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association (Get With The Guidelines-Stroke Gold Award), the American College of Cardiology (ACTION Registry Award)and Thomson Reuters (Top Hospitals®: Cardiovascular Benchmarks for Success).

MedStar Union Memorial is accredited by The Joint Commission (TJC). We are the first hospital in Baltimore to receive spine certification by TJC, and the first in the state of Maryland to receive advanced certification for palliative care. MedStar Union Memorial also is designated as a Primary Stroke Center and the Hand Trauma Center for the state of Maryland.

MedStar Union Memorial is a proud member of MedStar Health, a non-profit, regional healthcare system with 10 hospitals and more than 20 other health-related services in the Maryland and Washington, D.C. area.

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