With most towns and villages canceling 4th of July fireworks displays because of the pandemic, many people may be tempted to shoot off their own in an attempt to recreate the traditional Independence Day experience.
But, you could putting yourself and others at risk of a serious injury, said Dr. Douglas Ambler, internist at Central DuPage Hospital.
"I've seen injuries, hand injuries, which are common, when things go off faster than expected, I've seen people get injuries to face and eyes, and I’ve seen innocent bystanders get hurt when fireworks go off in a different direction," he said. "One time a home went up on fire when fireworks landed on the roof. There’s personal injury, property injury, and of course dogs in the neighborhoods won’t be happy."
Ambler said that he thinks there will be many people holding "mini fireworks displays" this year, because of all the cancellations. And despite the fact that while fireworks are illegal in Illinois, they can still be easily obtained.
"Anytime you drive through Indiana and Michigan there’s a million billboards [for fireworks], and with everything being canceled, certainly there’s going to be fireworks going on in everyone’s neighborhood.," he said. "And unfortunately, [there will probably be] a few extra injuries along the way. I’d think this could be worse than previous years- more people have bought fireworks this year, knowing their towns won’t have a display, so that might make for a few more ER visits."
The most common injury is burns to the hands, arms and face from bottle rockets, sparklers and Roman Candles, Ambler explained. However, severe injuries can happen.
"The more serious injuries would be to the face and eyes when things explode. I’ve not seen life-threatening injuries, but if something was big enough and near enough, someone could have complications from an injury from a firework. You could lose things like fingers- you may not lose your life- but losing a few fingers wouldn’t be a whole lot of fun," he said.
Before setting off fireworks this holiday, Ambler encouraged people to look at picture of fireworks injuries online.
"You can find pictures of missing fingers, burns all over the body. There are impressive injuries from fireworks," he said. "But I wouldn't look at them if you have a weak stomach. If people take a peek at some of the injuries, after you see those images, you might change your mind if you’re thinking of lighting off fireworks."
Ambler also cautions against mixing alcohol with fireworks, as the lowering of inhibitions can lead to more careless behavior, which can lead to more injuries.
"The explosive capability and the amount of energy these things emit is underrated, and these injuries aren't uncommon and shouldn't be taken lightly," he said. "I think everyone’s risk aversion is different - some people know there’s risk but want to take that risk anyway. That’s why these things are done by professionals and not your next door neighbor."