June 24, 2021 – Two of the most popular Fourth of July holiday traditions enjoyed by millions each year are fireworks and backyard grilling, but as this most American of holidays draws near, it’s wise to be aware of the potential dangers associated with those activities.

As countless thousands prepare to participate in lighting fireworks and grilling over an open flame in Central Indiana, the Richard M. Fairbanks Burn Center at Eskenazi Health urges everyone to avoid lighting their own fireworks this Fourth of July and be extra careful while grilling or barbecuing.

A June 2020 report by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), stated that an estimated 7,300 fireworks-related injuries (or 73 percent of the total estimated fireworks related injuries in 2019) were treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments during the 1-month special study period between June 21, 2019 and July 21, 2019. Of the 7,300 estimated fireworks-related injuries sustained, 66 percent were to males and 34 percent were to females. Children younger than 15 years of age accounted for 36 percent of the estimated fireworks-related injuries. Similar to the previous year, nearly half of the estimated emergency department-treated, fireworks-related injuries were to individuals younger than 20 years of age.

“Everyone is at risk when lighting fireworks. Please leave this practice to the professionals and attend one of the many firework shows held across our community instead,” said Brett Hartman, D.O., medical director of the Richard M. Fairbanks Burn Center at Eskenazi Health. “Our burn center at Eskenazi Health treats many fireworks injuries this time of year and we strongly encourage everyone to leave all fireworks activities to highly-trained professionals.”

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 something unfortunate happens and someone’s clothes catch on fire, 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,” Dr. Hartman said. “If you or someone you’re with is burned due to 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.”

Eskenazi Health reminds everyone to practice safe social distancing measures if spending time with people who have not yet received a COVID-19 vaccine. For more information on the current guidance, please visit https://www.cdc.gov/.

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.

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

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