While area residents are busy preparing for July 4 activities, staff at Wheeling Hospital are preparing for the possibility they will be treating injuries as a result of the private use of fireworks.
Wheeling Hospital physicians said the most common fireworks injuries they have encountered are burns and blasts to the hands, eyes and face. These can be severe and result in life-long disability.
"Historically, Independence Day week has been one of the busiest times of the year for plastic surgical services. We reattach fingers when possible, and more. We are the burn care surgeons for our community. Unfortunately, we'll likely see many burns around and during July 4," said Dr. Karl Mueller of Plastic Surgery Inc. at Wheeling Hospital.
Dr. Geoffrey Ruben, a pediatrician at Wheeling Hospital's Center for Pediatrics, who also is an experienced emergency room physician, has treated many fireworks injuries. He said they include ruptured eye globes, retinal injury with permanent blindness and many first-, second- and third-degree blast and burn injuries to the hands and face.
Dr. David Mosman, also with the hospital's Center for Pediatrics, said, "I have treated all degrees of facial burns, some resulting in permanent scarring, along with severe finger injuries with loss of fingertips, and burns and lacerations to the hands."
Mosman added that what may appear to be even the simplest of fireworks can be extremely dangerous. For example, he has treated facial burns from sparklers, which can reach temperatures exceeding 1,000 degrees.
COMMUNITIES TO LIGHT UP THE NIGHT FOR FOURTH OF JULY
Several local communities plan to observe Independence Day on Wednesday with fireworks, parades and other festivities, but not all celebrations will occur Wednesday.
Following is a list of upcoming events:
- Barnesville - Fireworks after dusk Saturday, Barnesville Memorial Park
- Cadiz - Annual Independence Day weekend celebration will take place Friday through Sunday with activities throughout throughout the weekend at Sally Buffalo Park. Fireworks will take place at around 10 p.m. Saturday.
- Follansbee - Parade 1 p.m. July 14, Main Street; fireworks 10 p.m. July 15 (Follansbee Community Days Festival)
- Martins Ferry - Fireworks after dusk Wednesday, city schools complex
- Moundsville - Fireworks after dusk Wednesday, Valley Fork Park
- New Martinsville - Arts in the Park Festival, 1-5 p.m. Wednesday, Bruce Park
- Seneca Lake - Annual Seneca Lake fireworks holiday celebration will take place with music and activities during the day Saturday and fireworks at dusk.
- Steubenville - Fireworks at 9:45 p.m. Friday, Harding Stadium or Harding Practice Field (gates open 8:30 p.m.)
- Weirton - Parade 10 a.m. Wednesday, Main Street; fireworks 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, Municipal Plaza
- Wellsburg - Parade 7 p.m. Wednesday, downtown; fireworks 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, Betty Carr Recreational Site
- Wheeling - Fireworks after dusk today, Schenk Lake at Oglebay Park; Wheeling Symphony free concert 7:30 p.m. Wednesday with fireworks after dusk, Heritage Port
"If a family decides to use fireworks, they should do so under the supervision of a responsible adult," noted registered nurse Jill Tomassetti, manager of the hospital's Emergency/Trauma Center. "But the ultimate tip is this - simply don't use fireworks. We would much rather have a family spending Independence Day anywhere than with us."