It’s that time of year again where we as Americans celebrate our Independence. July 4th celebrations often include backyard barbecues and colorful firework displays. While the pomp and circumstance of fireworks is mesmerizing, they can also cause serious injury such as burns. Every year approximately 10,000 people suffer from firework injuries. A large majority of these injuries occur during the first week of July.
The most common cause of firework injuries are caused by sparklers. Seemingly harmless, sparklers can reach a temperature of 1200°F which can cause third degree burns. Third degree burns on your hands are a common injury found after a fireworks injury. You should not allow your young children to play with sparklers and be careful while managing sparklers as they are a large flame in your hands.
We highly suggest leaving the fireworks to the professionals by attending your local fireworks displays that are organized and safe for families. You are not immune to injury when dealing with fireworks and can seriously hurt yourself if you aren’t careful. If you insist on playing with fireworks here are some safety tips to help prevent injury:
- Fireworks should be handled by adults only
- Be sure others are out of the way before lighting
- Do not place your face or body over fireworks
- Do not point fireworks at others
- Light fireworks on a smooth flat surface free from debris
- Keep a bucket of water or fire extinguisher near by
- Watch loose clothing as it can easily catch fire
In the event of injury, it is best to call 911 and seek medical help immediately. If a burn injury should happen, please remain calm and follow these simple steps:
- Cool the burn with cool (not cold) water to stop the burning process
- Remove all clothing and jewelry from the injured area
- Cover the area with a dry clean sheet or loose bandages
- Seek medical attention as soon as possible
If you are to face a serious burn injury understand that University Medical Center New Orleans has a Burn Center where you can receive care. We are the only burn center and level 1 trauma center between Houston and Mobile. Burn centers are highly-specialized clinical units for those injured that provide patient-centered care with a multi-disciplinary team approach. Patients from rescue to reintegration are offered comprehensive care for their injuries.
Dr. Jeffery Carter is the Medical Director of the University Medical Center New Orleans Burn Center. Dr. Carter earned his medical degree from East Tennessee State University in 2005 with honors and practiced general surgery and surgery critical care before specializing in burn treatment. He completed his burn/trauma fellowship at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and is board-certified by the American Board of Surgery in Surgery and Surgical Critical Care.