Eskenazi Health Encourages Everyone to be Careful When Around Fireworks

The summer season and Fourth of July holiday bring together family traditions of fireworks and backyard grilling, unfortunately there are potential dangers associated with those activities that we must all be aware of.

The Richard M. Fairbanks Burn Center at Eskenazi Health urges everyone to avoid lighting their own fireworks this Fourth of July, and to be extra careful while grilling.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) stated that in recent years fireworks were involved with an estimated 10,200 injuries  annually in U.S., occurring in the one month surrounding the Fourth of July holiday. The fireworks types with the highest estimated emergency department-treated injuries in 2022 were firecrackers followed by sparklers.

“Safety should be a top priority this Fourth of July holiday season and we highly recommend that you leave the firework lighting to the professionals,” said Brett Hartman, D.O., medical director of the Richard M. Fairbanks Burn Center at Eskenazi Health. “Every year, we see serious harm from fireworks. Even fireworks that appear perfectly safe can be dangerous. The best way to avoid serious harm is total avoidance of fireworks.”

Dr. Hartman said that injuries occur most often to the hands, face and eyes. He said that many times those injuries occur from lighting devices while holding them or carelessly playing with them. Fireworks malfunctions are also to blame for numerous injuries each year, with 43% of selected and tested fireworks found to contain illegal components that could lead to severe injuries.

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.
  • If you are lighting fireworks, avoid wearing loose clothing that could catch fire.
  • Light fireworks one at a time, then move away quickly.
  • 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, customary Fourth of July celebrations include cooking items on a grill. 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.

“Stop, drop and roll is still the recommended method to put out a clothing fire caused by fireworks or grilling, if water is not available,” Dr. Hartman said. “If you are burned, remove all clothing and jewelry from the burned area and apply cool (not cold) water to stop the burning process. Cover the area with a dry, loose bandage or sheet. Immediately seek medical attention and call 911 if severe injuries occur or a fire has started.”

The American Burn Association (ABA) and the American College of Surgeons recently recertified the Richard M. Fairbanks Burn Center at Eskenazi Health as a recognized adult burn center. The burn center is renowned as one of the finest and most progressive burn centers in the country. The Richard M. Fairbanks Burn Center is the only verified adult burn center in Indiana. For more information on burn prevention, please call the Richard M. Fairbanks Burn Center’s burn prevention hotline at 1.866.339.BURN.

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