Eskenazi Health Encourages the Public to Take Special Precautions Using Fireworks

Don’t risk fireworks and grilling injuries this Fourth of July

Indianapolis, June 27, 2017 – Two of America’s favorite pastimes during traditional Fourth of July holiday celebrations are fireworks and grilling, which bring tremendous enjoyment to many of us during this festive time. But as the most American of holidays draws near, it’s wise to be aware of the potential dangers associated with those activities.

As much as we all enjoy a dazzling Fourth of July fireworks display, an estimated 11,900 injuries were treated in the U.S. hospital emergency departments in 2015 according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). In addition, Young adults 15 to 19 years of age had the highest estimated rate of emergency department-treated, fireworks-related injuries (6.1 injuries per 100,000 people). Children 5 to 9 years of age had the second highest estimated rate (4.2 injuries per 100,000 people).

And it isn’t just large displays that are dangerous. Sparklers, which are often handed to children to play with, can burn at a temperature of nearly 2,000 degrees and cause approximately 24 percent of burn injuries from fireworks each year, according to CPSC. Firecrackers and bottle rockets also cause a significant amount of injury; and banned, professional and homemade devices are responsible for many firework-related deaths.

Physicians in the Richard M. Fairbanks Burn Center at Eskenazi Health urge consumers not to light their own fireworks this Fourth of July.

"No fireworks are truly safe for people to light themselves at home. Even fireworks that may seem harmless have potential to cause serious injury," said Dr. Rajiv Sood, medical director of the Richard M. Fairbanks Burn Center and division chief and professor of plastic surgery at the Indiana University School of Medicine. "Avoidance is the best medicine when it comes to fireworks. Almost 30 to 40 percent of the burns we see are preventable with the appropriate education."

Firework injuries are often a result of playing with the devices or lighting them while holding them. Injuries can also occur when fireworks malfunction or don’t work as expected. The parts of the body where these injuries occur most often include the hands, face and eyes.

If you do decide to light fireworks at home, exercise extreme caution, and be sure to follow these precautions:

  • Never allow children to light or play with fireworks.
  • Avoid buying fireworks in brown paper packaging, which is a sign they are made for professional displays.
  • Light fireworks one at a time, then move away quickly.
  • If you are lighting fireworks, avoid wearing loose clothing that could catch fire.
  • Keep a bucket of water nearby in case of fire.
  • Never try to relight a burned out or “dud” firework. Soak it in water, and throw it away.
  • Never take fireworks apart or modify them in any way.

Like fireworks, cooking hot dogs, burgers and other items on a grill are customary and enjoyable aspects of Fourth of July celebrations. However, there are precautions that should be adhered to in order to make grilling a safe and pleasant experience. To keep you and your family safe, here are some general guidelines:

  • Propane and charcoal grills should only be used outdoors.
  • Grills should be located well away from the home, deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
  • Keep children and pets away from the grilling area.
  • Keep your grill clean by removing grease or fat buildup from the grills and in trays below the grill.
  • Never leave your grill unattended.

If clothing catches on fire from a fireworks or grilling accident, the best way to put out the fire is to “stop, drop and roll.” If you sustain a burn, immediately remove any clothing or jewelry from the burned area. Stop the burning process by cooling the area with cool (not cold) water, and cover the area with a dry, loose bandage or sheet. Seek medical attention immediately. If injuries are severe or a fire has started, call 911 immediately.

Verified by the American College of Surgeons and the American Burn Association, the Richard M. Fairbanks Burn Center at Eskenazi Health treats more than 350 inpatients each year in addition to more than 3,700 outpatient visits with patients from across the country. The Richard M. Fairbanks Burn Center is regarded as one of the finest and most progressive burn centers in the United States. For more information on burn prevention, please call the Richard M. Fairbanks Burn Center’s burn prevention hotline at 1.866.339.BURN.

CONTACT: Tom Surber
Phone: 317.880.4793
Cell: 317.402.9327
Pager: 317.310.5972
Email: thomas.surber@eskenazihealth.edu