Curtis National Hand Center Experts Urge Fireworks Safety | MedStar Health

Curtis National Hand Center Experts Urge Fireworks Safety

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A young boy holds an American flag and a sparkler on the 4th of July.

BALTIMORE - Before celebrations even begin this Fourth of July, hand experts from the Curtis National Hand Center will begin treating traumatic hand and finger injuries from fireworks in the MedStar Union Memorial Hospital emergency department. It tis the season.

Legal and illegal explosives often cause traumatic injuries so great, there’s not enough bone or tissue left of a finger or hand to repair. Injuries including amputations and permanent damage to nerves and tendons. Each Fourth of July season, hand surgeons from the Curtis National Hand Center receive patients from all over the region and are tasked with complex reconstructive surgeries to cover open wounds, reattach fingers and hands, and reestablish a functioning limb. One of their signature surgeries: creating a thumb from a toe to recreate an opposing digit -critical for function.

“Just imagine trying to hold a glass, a pen, a baseball bat or handle bars without a thumb,” proposed Ryan Zimmerman, MD, attending hand surgeon at The Curtis National Hand Center. “Repairing these types of injuries requires innovation and expertise. While we all want to be festive and enjoy fireworks each Fourth of July, these devices should be left to the experts. Mistakes that happen with explosives have a lasting impact.”

Eight people, including a four-year-old, died in 2017 due to recreational fireworks injuries, according to the most recent data available from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Fireworks were involved in an estimated 12,900 injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments that year, according to the CPSC. The hands and fingers were the body parts most often injured.

There is no such thing as completely safe fireworks. Even sparklers can burn up to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, as hot as a blowtorch.

The Curtis National Hand Center experts offer these important safety tips:

  • Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.
  • Avoid buying fireworks that are packaged in brown paper because this is often a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays and that they could pose a danger to consumers.
  • Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities. Parents don't realize that young children can suffer injuries from sparklers.
  • Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.
  • Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully.
  • Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
  • Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishaps.
  • Light fireworks one at a time, then move back quickly.
  • Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.
  • After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding it to prevent a trash fire.
  • Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them.



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.

Call 877-UMH-HAND for a physician referral.


About MedStar Union Memorial Hospital

MedStar Union Memorial Hospital is a not-for-profit, 223-bed acute care teaching hospital with a strong emphasis on cardiac care, orthopaedics and sports medicine. With roots stemming back to 1854, MedStar Union Memorial has provided high quality care for 160 years. As one of the region's top specialty hospitals, MedStar Union Memorial is home to: The Curtis National Hand Center, the largest hand center in the nation, focused on the treatment of the hand and upper extremities; MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute, a premier cardiovascular program in the mid-Atlantic, aligned with Cleveland Clinic Heart and Vascular Institute, the nation’s #1 heart program; and MedStar Sports Medicine, which includes the oldest hospital based sports medicine program in Maryland (founded in 1979). In addition, MedStar Union Memorial offers a comprehensive range of inpatient and outpatient services including oncology, diabetes and endocrinology, general surgery, thoracic surgery, vascular surgery and palliative care.

MedStar Union Memorial is accredited by The Joint Commission (TJC). It is 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 is also TJC-certified in hip and knee replacement and has been designated as a Primary Stroke Center and the Hand Trauma Center for Maryland.

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

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Media Contact

Debra Schindler

Regional Director, Media & Public Relations, MedStar Health Baltimore

Office: 410-554-2496
Cell: 410-274-1260

Carrie Wells

Public Relations Specialist, MedStar Health Baltimore

Phone: 443-613-1569

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