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Firework injuries – what to do and how to stay safe

  • emma
  • October 29, 2013

firework safety

Over a four week period around November 5th more than 1,000 people are likely to suffer injuries due to fireworks. Of these accidents, nearly 600 are likely to occur at home or private parties and nearly 400 accidents are likely to  involve children under the age of 13*.

The safest way to enjoy Fireworks is to go to a properly organised display. However if you’re buying fireworks to use at home, check the fireworks conform to British Standards. Only set fireworks off in your garden if you’ve got enough space.

If you are organising any firework display, you should have an appropriately stocked first aid kit, a bucket of sand and plenty of water, a fire blanket and a bottle of sterile saline to irrigate eyes.

Sparklers

Sparklers are often viewed as a more harmless firework, but they still burn fiercely and are not suitable for children under the age of five years old. They can get six times as hot as a pan of cooking oil or as hot as a welder’s torch

Light sparklers one at a time and always wear gloves

Always supervise children with sparklers and ensure that they stand still, away from other people.

However careful you are, injuries can happen and here is how to treat some of the more common ones:

Minor burns

  • Hold the affected area under cold, running water for at least 10 minutes
  • If a child is burnt and the area is blistered, or larger than the size of the child’s palm, you should phone for an ambulance.
  • Once the burn has been cooled for at least 15 minutes, the burn can be covered with cling film or a hand can be inserted into a sterile plastic bag –alternatively keep running it under water until the ambulance arrives.

If clothing is on fire

Remember : stop, drop, wrap and roll.

  • Stop the casualty panicking or running – any movement or breeze will fan the flames
  • Drop the casualty to the ground and wrap them in a blanket, coat, or rug. Ensure they are made from inflammable fabrics such as wool
  • Roll the casualty along the ground until the flames have been smothered.

Severe burns

If clothing has caught fire it is more than likely that the burn will be severe. A severe burn is deep and may not hurt as much as a minor one due to damaged nerve endings.

  • Start cooling the burn immediately under cool running water for at least 10 minutes. Use a shower or hose if the burns are large. Keep cooling the burn while waiting for professional help to arrive. Ensure you are cooling the burn and not the casualty, keep areas that are not burnt as warm and dry as possible to try and avoid the casualty going into shock.
  • Instruct a helper to dial 999 or 112 for an ambulance
  • Make the casualty as comfortable as possible, ideally lie them down and elevate their legs, to reduce the risk of clinical shock.
  • Whilst cooling, remove any constricting items such as jewellery or clothing from the affected area unless they are stuck to the burn. Wear disposable gloves if they are available

For ALL burns NEVER

  • Touch the burn
  • Use lotions, ointments and creams
  • Use adhesive dressings
  • Break blisters.

Eye injuries

Fireworks and bonfires have sparks, which can land in the eye and be painful. Open the casualty’s eye and carefully look for any embedded object. If there is anything lodged in the eye, cover both eyes and phone for an ambulance. If you can see the object in the eye and it is moving freely, use a sterile eye wash and gently irrigate the eye to remove it. If the casualty is still in pain, or discomfort, seek medical advice.

It is strongly advised that parents attend a practical First Aid course to understand what to do in a medical emergency.

First Aid for life provides this information for guidance and it is not in any way a substitute for medical advice. First Aid for Life is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made, or actions taken based on this information.

*based on 1994 statistics

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