Burn injuries and illegal fireworks among concerns ahead of July 4th holiday

While the White House is moving forward with a fireworks show over the National Mall for July Fourth, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser is urging residents to stay at home. She says while the District has largely flattened the curve when it comes to COVID-19, it has not eradicated the virus.

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"We’re staying home with my family this year, for safety reasons but hopefully it's recorded and we can watch on TV," said Maryland resident Ronnie Geter.

"No definitely not coming out, I mean I’ll be watching from my rooftop, but won’t be out here. It’s not safe, it will only make things worse," said law student Jennifer Pantell.

But celebrating the holiday at home comes with its own risks.


"We believe many people will purchase illegal fireworks, we believe we're gonna see an uptick in firework injuries, we hope not, but we're prepared for that," said Oliver Alkire, Maryland Deputy State Fire Marshall.

There is major concern going into the holiday weekend about burn injuries, not only with illegal fireworks but with more people at home, there’s a great risk for burns associated with cooking and grilling.

In fact, the region’s Burn Center at Medstar in D.C. just announced a dramatic increase in burn injuries over the last three months during the coronavirus pandemic. Director Dr. Jeff Shupp says they've been treating patients non-stop for the past few months and have seen about a 30 to 40 percent increase in cooking burns. Typically the center treats 60 burn patients a month, but during COVID-19 that number has doubled, to around 100-130.

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Dr. Shupp says it’s likely because people are cooking and experimenting more during the stay at home orders.

"We’re finding more patients that need to be admitted, that need graph surgeries, that need ICU care, so the overall severity is much higher," said Dr. Shupp.

He adds, "As we start grilling outside, make sure you test the grill before you prepare food so it ignites safely. Also if you're cooking with grease, and you’re not too familiar with it, make sure you have a functioning fire extinguisher and as we head into the 4th of July holiday, leave the fireworks to the professionals."

Dr. Shupp says Illegal fireworks are a big worry. Not only because people may use them improperly, but because they can easily malfunction and cause serious burn injury to the hands and eyes.