Veteran Emergency Room Doc Says Homemade Fireworks Cause Many Injuries

Jul 2, 2014


A doctor with over 30 years of experience in emergency department care says many fireworks-related injuries can be traced to homemade explosives.  University of Kentucky physician Chuck Ekerline says a male patient came in with just such injuries Monday.  He says exploding debris and shrapnel caused extensive damage to the man's arms, chest and face. 

Ekerline says an average of five to ten injuries are seen each Fourth of July holiday.  "Well, the care is to exclude a serious injury to the eye or to any of the internal organs and then you have to treat the wounds," explained Ekerline. "You have to remove as much of the shrapnel as you can.  You have to treat the patient with tetanus prophylaxis, and often times you need antibiotics.  It's primarily wound care and excluding more serious injuries."

Regulations banning the use of flying fireworks have been adopted in many Kentucky communities over the last year or so.  Still, Ekerline, who is vice chair of UK's Emergency Medicine, says the number and types of Fourth of July injuries haven't changed significantly.  "We have the same pattern of injuries almost every year.  I think over the last several years we've seen more potent, more explosive fireworks with more power and I think we tend to see more serious injuries.  But, the injuries are basically the same.  They're usually the result of an explosion," added Ekerline.

Ekerline says emergency room staffing doesn't change drastically for the Fourth of July holiday.​