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WCH and the Erie County Sheriff's Office Demonstrate the Dangers of Fireworks

Orchard Park, NY – Erie County Undersheriff Mark Wipperman and Kathryn D. Bass, MD, Medical Director of Trauma at Women & Children’s Hospital of Buffalo urge the public to leave the fireworks to the pros this Fourth of July.  The Sheriff’s Office and Women & Children’s Hospital partnered this year to demonstrate the serious injuries caused by common fireworks such as M-80s and sparklers.

Members of the Sheriff’s Office Bomb Squad Unit used ballistic gel, generously donated by the Kiwanis Club of Buffalo, to show the public exactly what happens when people choose to ignite illegal fireworks.  The gel closely replicates human flesh and shows the devastating effects from even small explosions.

“Small firecrackers can leave severe burns and even amputate a finger of a child.” explains Undersheriff Mark Wipperman. 

As the Regional Pediatric Trauma Center for Western New York, Women & Children’s Hospital sees fireworks related injuries each year for the days surround the Fourth of July.  The hospital’s emergency room handles everything from minor hearing issues to lost fingers and third degree burns."We see a lot of injuries to the hands and face because kids are excited and curious around fireworks and pick them up to play,” said Dr. Bass.  “The older kids end up with explosions to the face because they don't back away quick enough after igniting the fireworks.”

Undersheriff Wipperman urges, “Our goal here today is to inform parents, teenagers and especially kids that fireworks are dangerous, illegal and should be left to the professionals to put on the grand displays we are accustom to seeing on the Fourth.”

"Fireworks are a tradition in our annual 4th of July celebration. I encourage families to enjoy a public display and leave the explosives in the hands of trained professionals," said Dr. Bass.  “The explosion lasts less than a second, but the injuries can last a lifetime.” Wipperman adds, “The Sheriff’s Office and the staff of Women & Children’s Hospital goal is to make sure everyone enjoys our Nation’s birthday and to be safe.”  

National Statistics for Firework Related Injuries 

  • There were an estimated 800 emergency department-treated injuries associated with firecrackers. Of these, an estimated 20 percent were associated with small firecrackers, 10 percent with illegal firecrackers, and 69 percent with firecrackers for which there was no specific information.
  • There were an estimated 1,100 emergency department-treated injuries associated with sparklers and 300 with bottle rockets.
  • The parts of the body most often injured were hands and fingers (an estimated 46 percent); eyes (an estimated 17 percent); head, face, and ears (an estimated 17 percent); and legs (an estimated 11 percent).
  • More than half of the emergency department-treated injuries were burns. Burns were the most common injury to all parts of the body, except the eyes, where contusions, lacerations, and foreign bodies in the eyes occurred more frequently