UW Medicine study finds legal fireworks responsible for most severe injuries

SEATTLE – In a first of its kind study from University of Washington Medicine, researchers discovered the fireworks that cause the most severe injuries are legal in our state.

The study talks about shell and mortar types of fireworks, and followed nearly 300 people who were admitted to Harborview Medical Center in a span of 10 years.

Health officials told Q13 News the emergency gets slammed each year around the Fourth of July.

One man from Kentucky had to be airlifted to Seattle after an incident with fireworks in Montana resulted in the loss of several fingers.

We have to warn you, some of the images you’re about to see are graphic.

“I lit the fuse, I held it above my head and it detonated in the tube in my hands,” said Mike Spencer.

He required nearly a dozen surgeries and now hopes his story can serve as a warning to others.

“I would like to say to anybody fireworks are very dangerous,” he said. “Be very careful with them. Leave them to the pros, I wish I had.”

Spencer is part of the new study that tracked fireworks-related hospitalizations from 2005 to 2015.

“These findings question the safety of federally legal shell and mortar style fireworks,” said Dr. Brinkley Sandvall.

The study also reveals that even so-called safe and sane legal fireworks can cause serious injury

“The majority of injuries are actually caused by bottle rockets, sparklers and roman candles,” said Dr. Monica Vavilala.

Three years ago, an Everett boy suffered severe injuries when a roman candle he was holding exploded in his hands

In 2015, another young boy was hospitalized for eight days after a sparkler bomb blew up in his face.

“No fireworks are to be considered safe,” said Joshua Pearson with the Seattle Fire Department. “Even children who are supervised experience significant injury.”

The study’s authors said it’s now up to lawmakers to do something with the data.

“Generating the data allows us now to say look, let’s talk about maybe policy, let’s talk about outreach and injury prevention messaging,” said Vavilala. “Let’s look at our public sector to maybe think about how we should consider, should shells and mortar be legal or not?”

The study said it’s estimated that more than 10,000 people are treated for fireworks injuries across the country every year.

Hospital and fire officials suggests families should forego buying their own fireworks and watch a professional show instead.

The Seattle Fire Department said last year alone more than 85 fires were sparked by fireworks, causing more than a quarter-million dollars in property damage.

Serious damage by fireworks has also been reported in other counties.