On July 3rd at 9:17 p.m. firefighters responded to a report of a person injured by fireworks in the 8300 block of Elvaton Road. Firefighters located a 21-year-old male who had suffered severe injuries to both hands. Paramedics transported the patient to the Curtis National Hand Center at Medstar Union Memorial Hospital with critical but not believed life-threatening injuries.
Investigators from the Anne Arundel County Fire Department Fire and Explosives Investigation Unit found that the injured person was attending a large outdoor party. A number of the attendees brought illegal fireworks, which had been purchased in Pennsylvania, to the event. According to the investigators, the victim held a mortar tube in one hand and dropped a lit mortar into the tube with the other hand. The mortar was upside down, and the explosion within the tube caused catastrophic injuries to both of his hands. There were no other injuries, and no criminal charges were filed.
This is the second consecutive year in Anne Arundel County where individuals have required hospital treatment following fireworks injuries around the Independence Day holiday. On July 4th of last year, fire investigators investigated two separate cases in which individuals received injuries from fireworks. In both of those cases, the injuries were less severe than last night’s incident, and the victims were driven by friends to Baltimore Washington Medical Center. One person suffered a hand injury when they picked up a firework that landed them near them, and it exploded in their hand. The second injured person received burns to their chest when they lit a roman candle.
Other recent incidents in the county include a 19-year-old man injured in Pasadena in June of 2016 when a legal sparkler device purchased in Anne Arundel County malfunctioned and exploded in his face. He received eye injuries and concussive ear injuries. Another incident in Arnold in January of 2016 injured five people when an illegal firework (mortar), was placed into the wrong size PVC pipe being used as a launch tube. The mortar became lodged in the launch tube and exploded, sending shrapnel in all directions.
The possession and discharge of fireworks without proper permits is illegal in Anne Arundel County. Sparklers that do not contain chlorates or perchlorates are not defined as fireworks by the law and are legal. Although legal, sparklers can still be dangerous and should only be used outdoors, under adult supervision, and kept away from the body. Sparklers can heat up to 1200 degrees and pose a danger if used improperly.
Fireworks can be dangerous and deadly, the safest way to enjoy them is through public displays conducted by professional pyrotechnicians hired by communities over July 4th or at other times during the year. Parents need to be especially vigilant during this period in assuring that children do not possess dangerous fireworks or mishandle legal ones.
A list of area 4th of July celebrations can be found at the State of Maryland Tourism site http://www.visitmaryland.org/