Take precautions to prevent burn-related injuries this Fourth of July

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (July 1, 2014)– by Eskenazi Health– On average 200 people nationally are treated for burns related to firework injuries in the months surrounding Independence Day, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. These burns often result from improper use of sparklers and other legal and illegal fireworks, and they usually involve the hands, face, eyes, arms and legs.

As firework superstores begin popping up throughout Indiana, the various types of fireworks being sold can pose certain dangers. Bottle rockets can fly into peoples’ faces and cause eye injuries; sparklers can ignite clothing; and firecrackers can injure the hands or face if they explode at close range. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, novelty fireworks, such as sparklers, burn at around 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit, which physicians at the Richard M. Fairbanks Burn Center at Eskenazi Health say can result in significant burns. Sparklers result in, on average, over a tenth of all injuries from fireworks.

“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,” said Dr. Rajiv Sood, medical director of the Richard M. Fairbanks Burn Center at Eskenazi Health and division chief of plastic surgery and professor of plastic surgery at the Indiana University School of Medicine.

Many of these injuries could be avoided or minimized by following some simple safety measures. Doctors at the Richard M. Fairbanks Burn Center, the only adult burn center that serves central and southern Indiana, recommend that people leave fireworks to  the professionals, but if you choose to use fireworks at your home, it is important to take some special precautions.

These precautions include:

  • Never re-light a “dud” firework (wait 15 to 20 minutes, and then soak it in a bucket of water).
  • Never build or experiment with homemade fireworks.
  • Make sure only adults handle fireworks.
  • Give children glow-in-the-dark wands and noise makers instead of sparklers.
  • Read and follow all instructions.
  • Always have water on hand.
  • Never take fireworks apart or modify them in any way.
  • Check with local police and fire departments to determine which fireworks can legally be discharged in your area.

In the unfortunate event that an incident occurs, it is important to respond to the situation immediately. Dr. Sood said if clothing catches on fire, the best way to put out the fire is to “stop, drop and roll.” Once the fire is extinguished, the clothes from the area of the burn should be removed, and the burned area should then be wrapped in a clean, dry dressing or warm blanket. It is also important not to put any creams or salves on severe burns. As with any medical emergency, call 911 immediately.

Verified by the American College of Surgeons and the American Burn Association, the Richard M. Fairbanks Burn Center treats more than 350 inpatients and 3,700 outpatients each year. Since 1993, the burn center has seen an increase of approximately 15 percent per year in the number of patients treated. The burn center at Eskenazi Health is regarded as one of the finest and most progressive burn centers in the United States and is located above the Michael & Susan Smith Emergency Department and Smith Level I Shock Trauma Center at Eskenazi Health.

For more information about firework safety, please call the Richard M. Fairbanks Burn Center at Eskenazi Health’s burn prevention hotline at 1.866.339.BURN.

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