Indianapolis, June 30, 2020 – Summertime is perfect for throwing hot dogs, hamburgers, steaks and other items on the grill and July 4th is always the time to see the best fireworks displays around.

However, due to the continuing battle against the COVID-19 virus, many of our celebrations will look quite a bit different due to social distancing, and some, like the annual IPL Downtown Freedom Blast fireworks extravaganza in Indianapolis on the night of July 4, have been canceled. In order to stay safely away from the coronavirus we may see fewer people attending the professional fireworks shows that remain on the schedule and many others will opt out of traditional Fourth of July barbecues.

No matter how many people will be participating in those events this season, the Richard M. Fairbanks Burn Center at Eskenazi Health and Indianapolis Emergency Medical Services (IEMS) urge the public not to light their own fireworks this Fourth of July and be extra careful while grilling or barbecuing. Everyone is also encouraged to continue to wear a mask and observe social distancing when at gatherings.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), approximately two-thirds of the 11,000 to 13,000 fireworks-related injuries reported each year happen around the July Fourth holiday from mid-June to mid-July. The National Safety Council reported in 2016 that the majority of fireworks incidents were due to amateurs attempting to use professional-grade, homemade or other illegal fireworks or explosives, and an estimated 1,200 injuries were from less powerful devices like small firecrackers and sparklers. Additionally, fireworks start an average of 18,500 fires each year, including 1,300 structure fires, 300 vehicle fires and nearly 17,000 other fires.

The parts of the body where these injuries occur most often include the hands, face and eyes. Many times those injuries are the result of individuals carelessly playing with the devices or lighting them while holding them. Fireworks malfunctions are also to blame for numerous injuries each year. 

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 or garden hose 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 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, please follow these 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 you or someone you’re with is burned via a fireworks or grilling accident, be sure to apply cool (not cold) water to the burn and cover it with a dry, loose bandage and seek medical attention as soon as possible because burns that appear to be minor can be very serious,” said Dr. Dan O’Donnell, chief of IEMS. “If clothes happen to catch on fire from an unforeseen mishap, encourage the individual to “stop, drop and roll” on the ground to put the fire out. If a fire has begun to spread and there are injuries, be sure to call 911 immediately.”

Note: Eskenazi Health providers will be available for interviews on this subject from Tuesday, June 30 through Thursday, July 2. To schedule an interview, please call 317.402.9327.

Verified by the American College of Surgeons and the American Burn Association, 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.

Indianapolis EMS is the largest provider of emergency pre-hospital medical care in the state, responding to over 100,000 911 calls each year. As a partnership between the City of Indianapolis, Indiana University School of Medicine, and Health and Hospital Corporation of Marion County, with Eskenazi Health as the supervising health system, IEMS strives to provide the best pre-hospital medical services to the community through the endless pursuit of excellence in patient-centered care, education, efficiency, efficacy, safety, and quality of service. Our mission: Right care. Every patient. Every time.

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For 160 years, Eskenazi Health has provided high-quality, cost-effective, patient-centered health care to Central Indiana. Accredited by The Joint Commission, nationally recognized programs include a Level I trauma center, regional burn center, comprehensive senior care program, women’s and children’s services, teen and adolescent care programs, Lifestyle Health & Wellness Center, Sandra Eskenazi Mental Health Center, and a network of primary care sites located throughout the neighborhoods of Indianapolis known as Eskenazi Health Center. In partnership with the Regenstrief Institute, Eskenazi Health conducts groundbreaking work that informs health information technology around the globe. Eskenazi Health also serves as the sponsoring hospital for Indianapolis Emergency Medical Services. As the public hospital division of the Health & Hospital Corporation of Marion County (HHC), Eskenazi Health partners with the Indiana University School of Medicine whose physicians provide a comprehensive range of primary and specialty care services. In 2013, the Sidney & Lois Eskenazi Hospital opened, providing a new modern and efficient facility and becoming Central Indiana’s first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) Gold health care campus. Eskenazi Health has been named one of Becker’s Hospital Review’s “150 Top Places to Work in Healthcare” for the past four consecutive years.

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