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How to Survive a Firework Injury

Dr. Henderson McGinnis, Emergency Medicine physician and Wilderness Medicine expert at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, tells you how to keep it together if you've blown your finger off (happy fourth, everybody!)

Step 1
Stopping the bleeding is the most important thing. Squeeze what’s left of your finger with the other hand, putting pressure all around the injured area, or wet a sock or T-shirt and apply direct pressure with that. This is going to hurt a lot.


Step 2
With the injured hand elevated above the level of your heart to help reduce the blood flow, search for the missing finger. When you find it, wash it as best you can and wrap it in a clean, moist cloth (again, a T-shirt will do).


Step 3
This is a fireworks party, so there should be food and a beer cooler. Find a Ziploc bag, put the cloth-wrapped finger in, and seal it tight so it’s waterproof (remember, you want the finger to be moist, not soaking). Then immerse the bag in ice water from the cooler.


Step 4
Get yourself to a hospital—you have about five hours before the finger is useless. But don’t hold your breath: The tissue damage from the blast means there’s less than a five percent chance of it successfully reattaching. In other words, don’t play with fireworks!