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Surgeon: better to donate to Ukraine than set off rockets

It's better to donate the money you plan to spend on holiday fireworks to help Ukraine instead – it will give more joy than a few seconds of light and noise, urge doctors who face the prospect of dealing with pyrotechnic injuries caused on New Year's Eve.

The State Fire and Rescue Service (VUGD) is urging residents to clear their balconies and gardens of things that can easily catch fire before New Year's Eve. Otherwise, a stray firecracker or rocket might cause a fire. In addition, no burning candles should be left unattended in the home, neither near in the Christmas tree, or on a table, or window sill.

Krišjānis Mincenbergs, the commander of the 3rd division of the Riga regional administration of the VUGD, said: "There are situations when candles are knocked over, when a pet knocks them over. Somewhere close to the curtains. (..) Are the candles placed close to any heat elements such as radiators or fireplaces. This also poses a hazard. They can [heat and] tilt to the side, fall and ignite nearby objects."

During the holidays, firefighters are also asking the public to install smoke detectors, if they have not yet done so.

Sadly, New Year always brings intense activity at the Children's Clinical University (BKUS) hospital. The most common injuries are various types of burns. Smaller children and babies spill coffee or tea on themselves, older children get burns from candles or damaged Christmas tree lights, and teenagers from pyrotechnics.

The injuries caused by pyrotechnics are the most serious every year. Doctors liken them to combat injuries.

Jānis Bendiks, the representative of the Microsurgery Center of the Riga Eastern Clinical University Hospital (RAKUS), explained: "This year, dozens of patients from the war zone with real injuries are being treated at this hospital. Therefore, it is even more painful to see that due to someone's carelessness and stupidity, a life could be lost for no reason."

People setting off holiday fireworks are generally of the opinion that nothing could happen to them. However, it does happen, and it happens quite often. These include severe injuries to the hands, face, legs and other parts of the body that can have lifelong consequences.

Such injuries can be "Very difficult to treat, actually irreversible loss of work ability, which afterwards seems absolutely unnecessary, pointless. Nothing can be done, nothing can be brought back," warned Bendiks.

If holiday fireworks absolutely must be used, doctors and rescuers recommend buying pyrotechnics only from licensed stores, strictly following the instructions for use, and certainly not shooting firecrackers while holding them in your hands, or near electricity lines or trees. But the necessity for pyrotechnics is extremely doubtful, particularly in the context of the war in Ukraine.

"We have enough people from the war zone next to us that every explosion reminds us of the war and can cause trauma. Better donate the money you were planning to spend on fireworks to help Ukraine. It will be more meaningful and give you more joy than a few seconds that you will see in the air," said Bendiks.

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