More fireworks injuries anticipated this year due to lack of public displays, experts say

AURORA, Ill. (WLS) -- Many communities have called off their fireworks for the 4th of July because of the pandemic, but some people are putting on shows of their own.

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Authorities in west suburban Aurora are warning about the dangers of fireworks. Injuries can happen in a matter of seconds.

Experts say children with a sparkler who touch it to a piece of clothing can cause permanent injury without even realizing it. The T-shirt on a mannequin they used to demonstrate is fully on fire in less than 20 seconds.

"Kids don't sit still. They run around and you give them this weapon. Sparklers penetrate skin."

It happens frequently. Fireworks injuries fill hospital emergency rooms every year around the 4th of July. Experts say this year is expected to be the worse than usual, due in part to the fact more people are at home with extra free time because of the quarantine.

According to the Illinois Fire Safety Alliance, illegal fireworks complaints are up 700% this year. Last year, there 10,000 injuries and 12 deaths from fireworks nationwide.

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Experts are concerned this year could be much worse, so they're trying to get the word out.

"A lot of these patients, more and more of them are pediatric patients. Kids. They're not supervised. It changes their lives. It's devastating," said Dr. Afaaf Shakir, who treats fireworks injuries at University of Chicago Hospitals.

Dave Schury has seen it firsthand. The burn survivor now works with young burn victims, including many who have been injured by fireworks.

"It's the parent who generally hands the sparkler to the child," Schury said.
"The child doesn't know any better."

Sparklers can heat up to 1,800 degrees. And when kids run around with them, the breeze can fan the flame, causing the sparkler to heat up more quickly.
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