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ERs brace for firework injuries ahead of Fourth of July

Don't be a Larry.

When I was an infant, my family lived in Kirkland. My older brother was very into fireworks and my parents obliged each Fourth of July. My brother's friend Larry would come over during this time. Our house was where the fireworks were happening.

At one point my brother figured out that he could light a firecracker and throw it into the air. It was small, but it was like his own fireworks show. Light the fuse, throw the firecracker. Light the fuse, throw the firecracker. Larry noticed. He wanted to try. So he lit the fuse, and threw the lighter.

Ever since the trip to the ER that year, our family was never as into fireworks. No one was going to be a Larry at our house (other than being startled, Larry was fine).

Every year, I think about that story when hospitals like Harborview Medical Center starts bracing for the annual increase of firework-related injuries. Harborview gets about 40 to 50 a year.

Medical experts are reminding everyone that fireworks can lead to losing body parts, like your hand. They can also injure others.

“I remember many really tragic patients who lost body parts, hands, other things because of misadventures with fireworks,” said Dr. Michael Sayre, a professor of emergency medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine. “The best strategy is not to get injured in the first place. So don't play with fireworks. Don't hold them in your hands, don't use them around children, and then you won't get hurt.”

The best way to prevent injuries is to not play with them. And don't hold them in your hands. Avoid using them around children. If you really want to see some pretty lights and hear some big bangs, there are public firework displays going on this weekend.

Natalie Newcomb contributed to this article.

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