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Doctor urges Fourth of July revelers to practice safety and avoid an ER visit

July Fourth is almost here, which means family, fun and fireworks for people all across the country. But for some, it also means a not-so-fun trip to the emergency room.

While Independence Day is all about letting loose with friends and family and watching fireworks sparkle in the sky, the combination of alcohol and a gun powder device can be quite problematic.

Around 10,200 people were treated for fireworks-related injuries in U.S. hospital emergency departments during the 2022 calendar year, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission 2022 Fireworks Annual Report.

Emergency rooms have seen many of these accidents on Independence Day, especially after the COVID lockdowns, said Dr. Matthew Shannon, director of community emergency medicine at the University of Florida Department of Emergency Medicine.

“What you have is a lot of people that want to get out and enjoy their July Fourth holiday with their family and friends,” Shannon said. “Couple that with the desire after a couple of years being sort of caged up, followed by this significant influx of people moving into the state of Florida.”

According to Shannon, many of Florida’s new residents do not find a primary care doctor right away and rely on the ER to get treated.

Shannon said there are many precautions people can take to make sure they spend their Fourth of July with family and friends rather than in the ER.

"One, stay away from fireworks,” Shannon said, “and observe them from a distance. Two, keep children away. I think that's crucial. If someone's going to choose to drink alcohol, really make sure they stay clear of those fireworks as they are going on. The last one, really keep a water source handy."

According to Shannon, having a water source available is important in case of burn injuries or if anything catches on fire.

Shannon also said boating accidents are common on July Fourth, and people should avoid operating any kind of motor vehicles while under the influence.

Aileyahu is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.