Backyard fireworks and the Fourth of July are as American as, well, Independence day itself. According to History.com, Congress first approved the use of pyrotechnics in 1777, just one year after the Declaration of Independence was signed.
Fireworks are easily purchased at grocery and big box stores, and independent sellers on nearly every street corner. As accessible as they may be, backyard fireworks are quite dangerous. More Americans seek care from urgent cares and emergency departments for burns in the month around the Fourth of July than another other time of the year. The Consumer Protection Safety Commission reports popular backyard fireworks such as sparklers, Roman candles, reloadable shells, and firecrackers account for 50% of injuries from fireworks, compared to public displays that account for only 4% of yearly injuries. In particular, sparklers can burn at 1200 degrees Fahrenheit – hot enough to melt glass and some metals.
For a red, white, and burn-free celebration, consider these safety tips:
- Fireworks should always be used under adult supervision.
- Don’t allow children to handle fireworks – even sparklers.
- Never point or throw a sparkler or firework at another person.
- Have a bucket of water or garden hose ready in a case of mishap.
- Remove clothing and jewelry at or near the burn site, if possible. Never force off if stuck to the skin.
- Run cool – not cold – water over the burned area for at least 10 minutes or until the pain is relieved. Do not use ice.
- The wound can be kept open, a dressing is not necessary. Also, use of antibiotic cream or ointment is not necessary.
- Oils, such as coconut oil or essential oils, are not recommended. Since the tissue has been damaged by heat, these substances can retain the heat, slow the healing, and make the burn more uncomfortable.
- Most importantly, seek immediate medical attention if in doubt of the severity of the burn. Make sure your tetanus vaccination is current.
NOTE: Any burn to the face or groin and all third-degree burns require emergency medical treatment. Third-degree burns are burns that involve the full thickness of the skin, are black, brown, yellow, or white in appearance, and may have no pain due to nerve ending damage.
The providers and staff at Michigan Urgent Care wish you a happy and safe Fourth of July celebration. All of our clinics open at 8 a.m. and are open regular hours on the Fourth of July. Our providers are highly trained and experienced to treat burns and other injuries.