With the advent of the Fourth of July, most people will be in a celebratory mood. For some, that includes fireworks of all kinds, which can provide enjoyment to both young and old.

Fireworks of all kinds are prohibited in the local area, and they can be extremely dangerous devices.

Dr. Ken Shoji has been an emergency room physician for 30 years and has seen all sorts of injuries due to the improper use of fireworks.

“We usually see a lot of fireworks-related injuries around the week before the Fourth of July,” said Shoji, who works at Marina del Rey Hospital.

There are two primary types of injuries that emergency room doctors see the most — those from “safe and sane” fireworks (not allowed in the local area) and those that come from illegal fireworks.

“We see a lot of minor injuries among younger children who tend to get too close to the fireworks, typically young boys between the ages of ten and 16,” Shoji explained.

Then there are the illegal fireworks — cherry bombs, Roman candles and M80s.

“If you’re not careful with these, you can blow off a hand,” Shoji warned.

An estimated 2,200 reported structure or vehicle fires were started by fireworks in 2004. These fires resulted in $21 million in direct property damage.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, between June 16th and July 16th of 2006, more than two-thirds of all fireworks-related injuries occurred.

During that time period:

– one out of every three people injured were children under 15 years of age;

– about three times as many males were injured as females; and

– young people under 20 sustained nearly half (47 percent) of all injuries from fireworks.

In addition, people actively participating in fireworks-related activities are more frequently and severely injured than bystanders.

While he has seen a reduction in injuries from fireworks in recent years, Shoji says that it is still important to remind families and individuals to be extra careful this Fourth of July.

“And if you are hurt, don’t wait to get treatment for a burn,” he advises. “Go to the nearest ER or urgent care center.

“But most important, have a safe Fourth of July.”

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