Firework safety tips: What to and what not to do!

Firework safety tips

Fireworks, even remarkable rockets, can do a lot more than just frighten a goose. As a matter of fact they can set clothes on fire and cause minor and severe burns, as well as eye injury. The safest way by far to enjoy fireworks is to do so from afar, after they have been previously arranged and set off by professionals. However, some people feel the need to recreate their home version of the Prometheus myth by holding -or having their children hold- sparklers in their hands. Of course that no one outside of Johnny Storm, Johnny Blaze, or Johnny Knoxville likes to set themselves on fire, so you would do well to heed the following recommendations for firework safety.

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Sparklers. Often thought to be harmless, but like the Boss said ‘you can’t start a fire without a spark.’ In fact, they get 6 times as hot as a pan of cooking oil or a welder’s torch. Moreover, children may pick up an old sparkler that has not cooled down.  

  • Sparklers are unsuitable for children aged 5 or younger.
  • Light one at a time while wearing gloves at all times.
  • Keep an eye on children with sparklers and make sure they stand still and away from other people.
  • Ensure children are not wearing loose clothes or scarves that can catch fire.

 Regardless of how careful people are, accidents are bound to happen if you insist on using fireworks. The most common injuries resulting from mishandling of fireworks include minor and severe burns, and eye injuries. A minor burn is red, painful, and may result in a blister, while a severe burn is deep and ironically does not hurt as much as a minor burn because it damages nerve endings. A severe burn is usually the result of clothing catching fire. Eye injuries can be caused by sparks and objects being ejected from fireworks and bonfires and landing in the eye.

Minor burn

Severe burn

Eye injury

·         Hold affected area under cold, running water for a minimum of 10 minutes.

·         Call an ambulance if the area is blistered or larger than the size of the child’s palm.

·         Young children and elderly people require special care.

·         Deep burns of any size warrant immediate hospital care.

·         The burn can be covered with cling film or a hand inserted into a sterile plastic bag after the burn has been cooled for at least 15 minutes.

·         Immediately cool the burn with cool running water for at least 10 min. or until professional help arrives.

·         Use a shower or hose for larger burns.

·         Cool only the burnt areas and keep the rest of the person as warm and dry as possible, lest they go into shock.

·         Ask someone to call 911.

·         Have the person lie down with their legs up.

·         Remove clothing, jewelry and other cumbersome items from the person, unless they are stuck to the affected area.

·         If possible, wear gloves.

·         Open the victim’s eye and look for embedded objects.

·         If an object is lodged in the eye, cover both eyes and call an ambulance.

·         If the object is visible and moving freely, gently irrigate the eye with a sterile eye wash to remove the object.

·         Seek medical counsel if the person is still in pain after removing the object.

Stop, drop, wrap, and roll. These are the four steps that you need to remember when someone’s clothes catch fire. Running around can not only fan the flames and spread the fire, but it can also lead to falls, sprains, and strains. Hence:

1.       Stop the person running or panicking.

2.       Drop them to the ground.

3.       Wrap them in blankets, coats, or rugs made with inflammable materials like wool.

4.       Roll them along the ground until the flames have been put out.

Preemptive measures include using only fireworks that comply with regional, state, and/or federal safety standards; use them in a garden that has enough space to set them off safely and allow people to stand far back; never let children light or handle fireworks; keep a first aid kit around as well as a bucket of sand and plenty of water, a fire blanket and a bottle of sterile saline for eye irrigation; double-check that old sparklers are fully out -or as the Moor of Venice would say ‘put out the light and put out the light’- and be extra careful if you’re first name is Johnny.

In addition to what you can do to ensure firework safety before, after, and during, there are also certain things not to do. Even though dressings and creams are use in the management of burns, they are either applied by medical professionals or used after the fact. With that in mind, never use lotions, ointments and creams or adhesive dressings on any fresh burn. Furthermore, abstain from touching the burn or break blisters.