Independence Day Can Bring Burn Risks

Published online: Jun 28, 2021 Articles, East Idaho Health
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IDAHO FALLS - As pandemic restrictions are lifted, and the country eases back into large gatherings and social events, Dr. Tait Olaveson, Medical Director of the Burn Center at Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center, has tips for a safe, friends-and-family-filled Fourth of July weekend.

“After the events of the past year and being stuck inside, I want everyone to enjoy the festivities of the weekend as they are able and in accordance with their local laws. With that in mind, I also want to encourage sober and careful use of grills and fireworks, especially around children,” said Dr. Olaveson.

Every Fourth of July, EIRMC sees a rise in patients with firework-related injuries, a majority of whom are children and teenagers. The mishandling or misuse of fireworks, along with improperly discarded hot debris, are among the most common hazards when it comes to burn injuries to the hands, legs, or head.

When handling fireworks remember to:

• Set up the firework on a flat surface to reduce the risk of tipping over.

• Educate children on proper firework etiquette: don’t get too close and don’t touch.

• Closely monitor children when they have sparklers. Kids grab hold of the hot tip once the sparkler is burned out, and can easily burn their palm.

• Avoid re-lighting, leaning over, or picking up a “dud.” The firework is still live and has the potential to detonate.

“Grilling and firework related injuries always increase in July for both adults and children, which isn’t unexpected. It’s the beginning of summer,” he said. “People are going to be out more but that doesn’t mean we can’t take precautions to help avoid getting burned. Ensuring children understand to keep a safe distance from grills and fireworks and to always keep the hose or a bucket of water nearby are just two examples of how we can promote safety outside.”

If you or a loved one suffer a minor burn this holiday, Dr. Olaveson advises that you:

• Do not apply ice. Instead, cool the burn with tepid water for at least five minutes.

• Do not apply home remedies such as butter or oils.

• Do not use cotton balls or wool to clean the burn.

• Take an over-the-counter pain reliever, such ibuprofen, acetaminophen, or naproxen, as needed for pain.

• Do not burst any blisters. Instead, cover the burn in a loose fitting dry, sterile bandage.

• Remove all jewelry from the burned area when it is safe to do so.

“If anyone is concerned about a burn or a wound that they feel is beyond first aid care, they should seek medical attention at EIRMC’s Burn Center.   A normal sunburn you should be able to care for at home, but a burn that is blistered or charred is more severe and should be treated at a burn center,” said Dr. Olaveson.

For more safety tips on how to avoid burn injuries at home and at work throughout the year, visit  Burn & Reconstructive Centers of America.  

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