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Avoid serious hand injuries from New Years fireworks
Every year on New Year's Eve, numerous people are injured by fireworks, which is often caused by improper handling. In a current announcement, doctors at the University Hospital Düsseldorf (UKD) warn of impending long-term damage, which can go as far as amputation. Here, a whole series of points should urgently be observed to minimize the risk of injury.
"Due to improper lighting, illegally imported or homemade fireworks and recklessness, the New Year's Eve ends for many people in the emergency room"; so the announcement of the UKD. The Director of the Clinic for Trauma and Hand Surgery at the University Clinic in Düsseldorf Professor Dr. Joachim Windolf warns that careless use of fireworks could result in accidents with severe to irreparable damage. If there are any injuries, a specialist should be consulted immediately, emphasizes Prof. Dr. Windolf.
Hand injuries are particularly critical
Numerous burns and injuries are caused annually by New Year's Eve firers, especially the area of the hands, chest and face are affected, reports the UKD. The quality of life could be severely restricted in the long term, particularly due to the hand injuries. In addition to burns and open wounds to amputations, tissue damage caused by the explosion pressure of the fireworks can be seen. The latter are "particularly treacherous because the extent of the injury is not visible at first" and "the pressure wave of the explosion may have injured the fine tissue structures in the hands," reports Prof. Windolf.
If there is such tissue damage, the “sequence causes the tissue to swell further and this leads to an additional increase in pressure, which ultimately jeopardizes the circulation in the hand,” explains the expert. In this case, we speak of a so-called compartment syndrome. If no treatment is given, "the fingers can be irreparably damaged - the consequences range from a limitation in holding or gripping to numbness and in severe cases to amputation of individual fingers," continues Prof. Windolf. After an accident, those affected should therefore go to a clinic with hand surgery as soon as possible and have their hand treated by a specialist.
In a corresponding special clinic, the pressure in the tissue can be relieved, if necessary, and in special hand trauma centers, such as the one at the Düsseldorf University Clinic, the doctors are "set up to be able to treat emergencies quickly at any time," emphasizes Prof. Windolf. "We are prepared for this, especially on New Year's Eve," the director of the Clinic for Trauma and Hand Surgery continues. Basically, however, careful handling of the fireworks is required. But on New Year's Eve this is obviously not available for many people.
Carelessness often causes injuries
As an extreme example, Professor Windolf reports of a case that occurred a few years ago and in which a boy with a serious injury to the hand was brought in, whose father had caused him to do a kind of test of courage to keep a firecracker burning for as long as possible to hold in hand. The firecracker exploded in the boy's hand, according to Prof. "That makes us stunned," emphasizes the hand surgeon. The boy will feel the consequences of this evening all his life.
Minimize risk of injury
In order to avoid injuries caused by New Year's Eve firefighters from the beginning, the following points should be taken into account urgently, according to the UKD:
- Only buy fireworks from specialist dealers and pay attention to the CR symbol and the BAM test number (Federal Office for Material Testing)
- No self-made or manipulated fireworks
- Use fireworks that do not have to be ignited by hand (e.g. firework batteries)
- Store fireworks safely and not on the body
- Do not re-ignite duds / fireworks that have not exploded
- No fireworks under the influence of alcohol
- Fireworks do not belong in the hands of children - pay attention to age ratings
In view of the environmental pollution caused, for example, by the released fine dust and during production, New Year's Eve fireworks are increasingly controversial and many people specifically avoid the New Year's Eve fireworks. The risk of injury could also be completely avoided in this way. (fp)