Summer Safety Tips

Fireworks, Lawn Mowers, Chainsaws and More: Tips for a Safe Summer 

From July 4th fun to outdoor household chores, warmer temps bring a greater risk for injury, particularly to the arms and hands. University of Maryland Orthopaedics Hand & Upper Extremity Surgeon, Dr. Raymond Pensy, provides his top tips for staying safe this summer.

Q: What are the most common injuries you see during summer months? 
Dr. P: Severe hand injuries from chainsaws, roll-over car accidents, falling thru glass and lawn mower injuries.

Q: How can these injuries be prevented?
Dr. P: Always have two hands on the chainsaw when in use; do NOT deactivate safety measures with chainsaws and lawn mowers. Also, drink [alcohol] in moderation.

Q: What activities provide the biggest risk to hand/upper extremity?
Dr. P: Motorcycle injuries, particularly while intoxicated. And, handling activated fireworks.

Q: Can you ever be safe with fireworks/sparklers? 
Dr. P: Yes. Never handle an activated/lit firework. They are best left on the ground, and NOT held while being activated. Large caliber fireworks should only be handled by professionals and treated like the explosives they are. Sparklers are best used when not in groups.

Q: What should someone do if they’ve been burned?
Dr. P: Any injury to the eye requires an immediate emergency room visit. Any burn to the front of the hand (more than simple skin redness) should be evaluated by a physician, as severe burns can require surgery. 

Immediate cool water to disperse residual heat can help, as well as clean gauze dressing if burn is severe. Some severe burns require antibiotics, surgery and hospital admission.

Q: What should someone do if they have a fireworks injury?
Dr. P: Applying pressure on any open, bleeding wounds is appropriate. Preserve amputated parts (not usually replantable). Any obvious, large burn, deformity or missing tissue warrants immediate physician evaluation.

Q: From your experience, what is typically the outcome from a fireworks/sparkler injury?
Dr. P: Most of the injuries we see at the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center at University of Maryland Medical Center are very severe, and often has resulted in amputation of one or more fingers. Severe burns cause significant scarring which can require surgery and skin grafting.

Q: What is your best health tip? 
Dr. P: Leave any but the simplest of fireworks to the professionals -- never handle an activated firework; use sparklers with extreme care, and preferably in small groups with one on one adult supervision.

Dr. Pensy is an assistant professor of orthopaedics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and specializes in Arthritis, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Fractures, Hand Pain, Trigger Finger, Tendon & Ligament Injuries, Wrist Pain, Hand & Upper Extremity Trauma, Reconstructive Surgery and Limb Salvage. He sees patients at the University of Maryland Center for Hand & Upper Extremity Care at the Camden Yards Warehouse in Baltimore City. Our hand specialists also see patients in Columbia, College Park and Timonium.

For more information about our services, visit umortho.org or call 410-448-6400.