THE HOSPITAL

Wonderment and awe—that is the best way I can describe my experience on New Year’s Eve. To stand in the middle of our street and turn completely around and see only fireworks was just amazing. It made me think about the Boston Pops concerts on the Fourth of July—I have never been to them, but the color, noise and smell must be similar to what I experienced. We were outside at midnight and after we have set off our firecrackers and we enjoyed what our neighbors were doing, we went inside to watch the rest of the show. The display went on for an hour. And these were all fireworks from families in our area. It was a magical night.

Now for the bad news. Across this country, there were 40 serious injuries attributed to fireworks. There were 14 partially or completely amputated hands. Obviously, there were more injuries than these, but only the severe cases are registered. All the victims were male and 45% of them were under the age of 18. And no big surprise here—64% of the fireworks in these accidents were illegal. In total, 637 people went to the Emergency Room…that is more than last year, when there were 576. Most of the injuries were to the eyes, some were blinded in one or both eyes. Plastic surgeons were very busy as they performed 43 surgeries and that is again more than last year, when they had 25 surgeries.

There has been much discussion about fireworks in The Netherlands. Most accidents happen because young people are using homemade fireworks. The government puts out a lot of information about the dangers of fireworks, but every year there are terrible accidents. Last year, 25 serious injuries were reported. This year, there were 40. Many people would like to ban the sale of fireworks completely and others say that it would make no difference. People will still make their own or go to another country and get some illegally. But really, accidents are happening whether the fireworks are legal or illegal.

The night before New Year’s Eve we saw a news report about a young man who lost three fingers last year. He had made his own firecracker and it exploded in his hand. Viewers were warned that they were going to see a disturbing image and we saw the photograph of his hand before the surgery. It was shocking, but I am so glad they showed it. Hopefully this story would frighten someone enough to not do something stupid. Apparently, not everyone saw this story OR they thought it would never happen to them.

It makes you wonder now about those that were injured. Do they now ask themselves was it worth it? For some big bangs and booms and for colors in the sky, was it worth it to get hurt?

Recommended reading: THE GILLY SALT SISTERS by Tiffany Baker. If you loved Baker’s first book THE LITTLE GIANT OF ABERDEEN COUNTY, you will enjoy this one too. I think I prefer her first novel, but this is a good Cape Cod story.

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