Grapefruit explosion compares dangers to digits in fireworks accident

Photo courtesy WTHI

VINCENNES, Ind. (WTHI) – As part of an effort to engage public safety this July 4 holiday, the Vincennes Fire Department showed our partners at WTHI an example of how using fireworks recklessly can leave a lasting impression on someone’s hands. Fire Chief Gordon Becher demonstrated the effects a high powered firework has on a grapefruit, noting its similarity to human flesh.

“Almost 50 percent of all firework injuries are hand and finger related,” said Becher. The Fire Chief had set up a demonstration table, and placed one unpeeled grapefruit on the table. A “Redneck Nitro” as it was branded, was placed into the center of the fruit, illustrating a hand holding a a firework.

Becher said when firefighters demonstrate the dangers of firework injuries, grapefruit is often used due to its consistency.

“A lot of times we use a grapefruit to resemble a person’s hand, it’s about as close as you can get,” said Becher.

Becher ignited the fuse, and in a matter of seconds, the grapefruit was all but obliterated. Pieces of the fruit fell in gravel near the demonstration table. WTHI’s Eric Stidman, who was capturing video of the explosion, was hit by grapefruit shrapnel, standing nearly 10 feet away.

From a National Perspective, Becher explained, emergency rooms record between 10 to 20,000 firework injuries per year. The Chief pointed to ‘dud’ fireworks as one cause; meaning a participant ignites a firework’s fuse, and the fuse delays. When the fuse delays, the participant picks it up, and it subsequently explodes. Becher also noted, alcohol is a contributing factor in firework injuries.

“We try to educate the public so that those numbers go down,” added Becher “You really need to use good common sense, especially with fireworks, alcohol and fireworks don’t mix.”

In order to have a safe, fun, holiday weekend, Becher offered the following:

“If it doesn’t ignite or its a dud, leave it alone, make sure you have an area where, you know, especially anything that goes in the air has room to come down, and make sure if you’re lighting things like that you have a fire extinguisher or garden hose handy,” said Becher.

News 10s Southern Bureau would like to thank JayC Foods in Vincennes and Mark’s Fireworks Outlet in Vincennes for their help in telling this story.


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