Eskenazi Health Encourages Everyone to be Careful When Around Fireworks

Fireworks, backyard grilling and the Fourth of July holiday have been a cherished combination seemingly forever, but as much fun as those great family traditions are, there are potential dangers associated with them that we all must be aware of as our nation’s birthday draws near.

The Richard M. Fairbanks Burn Center at Eskenazi Health and Indianapolis Emergency Medical Services (EMS) urges everyone to avoid lighting their own fireworks this Fourth of July weekend, and at any time, and be extra careful while grilling.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), stated that in recent years fireworks were involved with an estimated 15,600 injuries treated annually in U.S. hospital emergency departments.

The estimated rate of emergency department-treated injuries was 4.7 per 100,000 individuals in the United States, an increase from 3.1 estimated injuries per 100,000 individuals in 2019. An estimated 10,300 fireworks-related injuries (or 66%of the total estimated fireworks related injuries in 2020) were treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments during the special study period between June 21, 2020 and July 21, 2020.

“Safety is vitally important during the Fourth of July holiday season and we highly recommend that you leave lighting fireworks to the professionals,” said Brett Hartman, D.O., medical director of the Richard M. Fairbanks Burn Center at Eskenazi Health. “There are many fireworks that seem perfectly safe but they all have the potential to cause serious harm, so total avoidance is the best way to avoid injury from fireworks.”

Dr. Hartman said that the parts of the body where these injuries occur most often include the hands, face and eyes. He said any 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 clothing catches on fire from a fireworks or grilling accident, the best way to put out the fire if water isn’t close by is to “stop, drop and roll,” Dr. Hartman said. “If you sustain a burn, immediately remove any clothing or jewelry from the burned area. Stop the burning process by applying 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, and be sure to call 911 immediately.”

The American Burn Association (ABA) and the American College of Surgeons recently reverified the Richard M. Fairbanks Burn Center at Eskenazi Health as a recognized adult burn center renowned as one of the finest and most progressive burn centers in the United States. 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.

Note: Eskenazi Health staff will be available for media interviews. To schedule an interview, please call 317.402.9327.

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