Fireworks injuries treated at Nebraska Medical Center have increased since Omaha allowed fireworks to be sold within the city limits.
Since the ban was lifted two years ago, more than 20 people each year have come into the medical center for treatment, said Dr. Debra Reilly, medical director of the burn unit at the hospital.
The hospital would average about 10 fireworks injuries around July Fourth in the years when firework sales were banned and people had to drive farther to buy them.
“You can just drive down Dodge and you'll see fireworks stands all over,” Reilly said.
Children's Hospital and Medical Center reports that fireworks injuries have remained level since it became legal to sell fireworks in Omaha. The hospital treated seven patients in 2010, nine in 2011 and six last year.
The number of reported fireworks injuries across the state has remained steady, according to the State Fire Marshal's Office.
In 2010, state hospitals reported 144 fireworks injuries, 144 again in 2011 and 136 last year.
But with the free flow of fireworks from the 50 stands inside Omaha, people need to be extra careful around fireworks, said Dr. Robert Muelleman, chair of emergency medicine at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.
“Supervision, preferably non-intoxicated supervision, is important,” Muelleman said.
Parents need to make sure that when they light fireworks, they should keep kids at a safe distance, he said.
People also should not light too many at one time and should not approach a firework that appears to be a dud, he said.
Fireworks that seem mild compared with the booming artillery shells also can be dangerous, said Lisa Reichter, trauma nurse coordinator at Children's Hospital and Medical Center.
Sparklers are might appear safe, but they still present a danger to children.
“When you're giving them to small children to let them have a good time, you need to keep in mind that you're handing them something that's 2,000 degrees,” Reichter said.
If somebody does get burned by fireworks, it's important that they run cold water over the burn and not apply any ointments.
If the burn starts to blister or break open, the person should seek medical attention, Reichter said.
Health and safety professionals urged people to practice safety by watching professional shows.
There's little risk of getting injured, and the shows are fun for families, said Danielle Knudson, National Safety Council Nebraska safe communities director.
“(Public) fireworks shows are more spectacular than anything you can do at home,” Knudson said. “they promote community involvement and they're often free.”