Avoid a 4th of July emergency room trip - KRISTV.com | Continuous News Coverage | Corpus Christi

Avoid a 4th of July emergency room trip

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For many Americans, the 4th of July is a day of patriotism, family celebration, barbecue, and, of course, fireworks.  However, each year the fun ends with a trip to the emergency room for those who aren't careful.

Last year fireworks accidents sent more than 11,000 Americans to emergency rooms.

The 4th of July holiday has earned a reputation as the most dangerous holiday in the U.S.  Jennifer Carr, the Trauma Program Manager  at the Corpus Christi Medical Center says 4th of July related activities and fireworks bring a lot of people into the ER. 

“It is actually more common than you think. We see a lot of injuries with adults, and we also see injuries with children. We see injuries due to fireworks. We see burns to faces, hands, and eyes due to fireworks,” said Corpus Christi Medical Center Trauma Program Manager Jennifer Carr.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).  The injuries skyrocket around this time of year.  More than 230 people on average end up in the ER with fireworks-related injuries every day in the month around July 4th.

“If somebody gets injured from a firework, you definitely want to get them to the closest emergency department. Call 911, especially if it is an injury to the face or eye. Typically a burn such as a sunburn is a first-degree burn. Anything that is more than a first-degree burn needs to be evaluated by a physician. Anything that causes the skin to open up or not stay intact anymore needs to be evaluated. Burns can scar and require lots of treatments in follow-up phases,” said Carr.

Even with seemingly harmless sparklers, parents should use great caution and think twice before handing them to children.

“Take it seriously. Realize that fireworks can cause injuries, and always have adult supervision even with sparklers. Children need to be supervised. Sparklers can reach a temperature of 2000 degrees, and so we see lots of injuries of children with fireworks. A lot of those is because of lack of adult supervision,” said Carr.

Before use:

  • Make sure the fireworks you buy are ready to use. Avoid kits that require assembly or crafting your own at home.
  • Don't buy fireworks with brown labels or wrapped in brown paper. Those are usually made for public displays and not intended to be used privately.
  • Always follow the directions on the label carefully.
  • Always light fireworks outside and away from combustibles, like dry leaves and grass.
  • Choose the proper area for the fireworks you're using (i.e. don't use bottles rockets in a wooded area or near a busy street).

During use:

  • Don't let kids under 10 use any type of fireworks, even sparklers. Sparklers burn at a temperature of up to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, which is hot enough to melt some metals.
  • Light fireworks one at a time, never lash multiple fireworks together, never point them toward another person and make sure to wear eye protection.
  • Keep a hose or bucket of water nearby.

After use:

  • Never try to re-light a "dud." Wait at least ten minutes and then douse it with water.
  • Soak all fireworks in water before throwing them away.
  • Store extra or unused fireworks in a cool dry place.

While following these tips will help, sometime injuries happen. The most common areas of the body that are injured tend to be the hands, fingers, eyes, head and face, mostly with burns. If your child gets inured, considering the following:

  • If your child is burned by a firework and the burn is relatively mild (red or irritated skin), rinse it with cool water and apply an antibiotic ointment to the affected area.
  • If the burn is more severe (blistering, peeling and/or very painful) call your doctor or seek medical attention immediately.
  • If smoke or other particles get into the eyes, make sure your child doesn't rub them; it will only make the irritation worse. Try cleaning their eyes out with cool water, but if your child complains of continued visual problems or is still in pain after flushing their eyes with water, seek medical attention.
  • Smoke inhalation is also another factor to consider when using fireworks. If your child has inhaled smoke, remove them from the smoky area and let them rest in a cool, ventilated area. If they continue to cough, their coughing is severe or they have difficult or labored breathing, consider calling 911 or bringing them to the emergency department.
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