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          The number of fireworks-related injuries in Hawai‘i doubled to 115 during the 2004-2005 New Year’s holiday, compared to the previous year. Children ages 13 years and younger accounted for half the fireworks-related injuries treated by emergency departments.


        Oahu accounted for the dramatic increase in injuries, with the number of Neighbor Island incidents decreasing slightly. The changing number of fireworks-related injuries parallels the number of permits issued by county fire departments. Permits issued during the New Year’s period in Honolulu have increased in recent years, from 8,828 in 2003-2004 to 12,662 in 2004-2005. On the Neighbor Islands, there was a 13 percent decrease in the number of permits issued, from 3,984 in 2003-2004 to 3,454 in 2004-2005.


            The City and County of Honolulu’s Emergency Medical Services Division, Honolulu Fire Department, Honolulu Police Department, and state Department of Health are urging residents and visitors to exercise caution when celebrating with fireworks.


            “Injuries from fireworks can have devastating and long-term effects,” said Honolulu EMS Chief Patty Dukes. “Each year we respond to calls related to fireworks injuries and have to transport a few with critical and sometimes life-threatening injuries to emergency departments.”


            In 2004, 89 percent of the injuries treated by emergency departments were burns and 71 percent of the victims were males. The fireworks most commonly reported as the cause of injury included “flowers” and sparklers, which can burn at 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit.


            "Fireworks have long been popular in local culture, but we need to understand that they can be extremely dangerous," said State Health Director Chiyome Fukino, M.D. "Children are particularly vulnerable to fireworks-related injuries and should always be supervised by an adult when using fireworks."


            While illegal fireworks present their own hazards, the Honolulu Police Department reminds everyone that legally purchased fireworks can also be dangerous. “Be sure to follow the instructions provided by the fireworks manufacturers and teach your children to celebrate responsibly,” said Honolulu Deputy Police Chief Glen Kajiyama.

            During the 2004-2005 New Year’s period, firefighters in the state responded to 47 fireworks-related incidents that led to $103,200 in property damage and losses.


            “The safest way to prevent fireworks-related injuries is to leave fireworks displays to trained professionals,” said Honolulu Fire Chief Attilio Leonardi.


            The Honolulu Fire Department offers these tips:


§       Never allow children to play with or ignite fireworks.

§       Read and follow all warnings and instructions.

§       Only use legal fireworks purchased from a licensed retail outlet.

§       Be sure other people are out of range before lighting fireworks.

§       Only light fireworks on a smooth, flat surface away from the house, dry leaves, and flammable materials.

§       Never relight fireworks that have not fully functioned.

§       Keep a bucket of water in case of a malfunction or fire.





Patricia Dukes, Chief, Honolulu Emergency Medical Services Division, 831-7103

Eric Tash, Program Manager, Injury Prevention and Control Program, Hawaii State                  Department of Health, 586-5942

Capt. Kenison Tejada, Honolulu Fire Department, 831-7759

Capt. Frank Fujii, Honolulu Police Department, 529-3550

Thursday, December 29, 2005

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