UPMC and city police Bomb Squad exhibit firework safety


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Representatives from UPMC Mercy Burn Center and Pittsburgh Bureau of Police Bomb Squad demonstrated the dangers of personal fireworks at the bureau‘‍s firing range in Highland Park on Friday. 

The officials made two melons explode using fireworks that the police confiscated from various locations in the Pittsburgh area last summer.  

Most fireworks-related injuries occur between Memorial Day and Labor Day, said Mark Pinchalk, patient care coordinator at City of Pittsburgh EMS. 

Fireworks, grill safety focus of explosive demonstration

UPMC Mercy Burn Center and the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police Bomb Squad offered safety tips today in a demonstration that showed off dangers associated with fireworks and other combustibles. (Video by Darrell Sapp; 6/20/2014)

“It could be playing with explosives or being too close to when they detonate,” he said. 

Jenny Ziembicki, medical director of UPMC Mercy Burn Center, said about 10,000 such injuries happen in the United States each year, and 65 percent of those take place in the two weeks surrounding July 4. 

“These can be devastating eye injuries, facial injuries and hand injuries, not only including thermal burns or cutaneous burns, but also blast-type injuries,” Dr. Ziembicki said. “We see amputations, loss of vision, significant fractures.”

Treating these injuries often requires a multidisciplinary medical team from a comprehensive burn center, Dr. Ziembicki said. UPMC Mercy, which houses a Level One trauma center, has orthopedists who specialize in traumatic injuries. 

Fireworks also cause fatalities, Dr. Ziembicki said. 

“The No. 1 thing to do is leave all the fireworks to the professionals,” she said. “Even what’‍s considered legal fireworks can cause devastating injuries — loss of vision, amputations. Sparklers burn at 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit and can cause significant injuries to the pediatric patient, as well.” 

Marisa Iati; miati@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1891 or on Twitter @marisa_iati.  


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