With summer fully underway and the Fourth of July right around the corner many area residents are looking forward to a relaxing time outdoors and the colorful fireworks displays we have come to expect on Independence Day.
But this time of the year is also known for its spike in burn incidents
Dr. Jack Franaszek, board certified in Emergency Medicine and Medical director of the Emergency Department at Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital, says that common sense goes a long way in preventing injuries.
“The activities we partake in during the summer months lead to an increase in burn occurrences,” he said. “Around July 4th many accidents occur from using fireworks inappropriately. A few minor precautions can help avoid major accidents.”
For example, Dr. Franaszek urges adults and children alike to let professionals handle all fireworks displays
To help prevent and treat some common summertime injuries, including burns from fireworks, grills and the sun, Dr. Franaszek also offers the following tips:
- What are some of the common burns you see around the 4th of July?
There is certainly a rise in fireworks-related burns during the summer months. The majority of burns we treat are to the extremities (fingers, hands, arms).but some are even lacerations or hot cinders in the eye from lack of proper protection.
Many of the children we see in the ER received their injuries from playing with sparklers. Most people believe children’s sparklers are benign when in fact they can reach temperatures of over 1200 degrees. Considering that water boils at 212 Fahrenheit, you can see that a sparkler can inflict major damage.
Although fireworks can cause first-, second- and third degree burns, we most often treat superficial first and second degree burns.
- What is the difference between first-, second- and third degree burns?
First-degree burns affect the top layer of skin and result in a swollen red mark that is sore to the touch. These are the most prevalent type of burn and usually heal within a few days.
Second-degree burns also affect the top layer of skin but they result in blisters, as well as irritated red skin. These blisters should not be popped or opened, as they will be painful. Second degree burns usually heal within one to two weeks
Third-degree burns are the most severe of burn classifications. The burn will have completely destroyed the skin and the injured area will appear white or black in color and in some cases the individual may not have any sensation in or around the burnt area. Third degree burns should be treated by a doctor immediately. The healing period for third degree burns varies depending on the seriousness of the burn.
- Can some burns be treated at home?
While a board-certified physician should be consulted in the event of a serious burn, there are some at home steps you can take in treating your mild burns.
For the treatment of first degree and most second degree burns, people should follow 4 steps.
- Clean the burn by running it under cool tap water.
- Minimize the damage by removing the dead skin and taking Ibuprofen, which helps not only relieve pain but has a protective effect on the wound.
- Cover the burn with a light wrap and antibiotic ointment. Keep covered and away from the sun.
- Watch for signs of infection including: redness, fever, and increased pain. . In the event of any of these symptoms, consult a physician immediately
- What precautions should families take when using fireworks to prevent a burn?
Some simple steps people can take to prevent injury:
- Protect your eyes from falling debris.
- Stay far away from fireworks displays.
- Keep water nearby in case of an emergency.
- Keep fireworks away from houses and enclosed areas.
- Do not hold fireworks or firecrackers in your hand.
- Do not point fireworks at or near other people.
- Let professionals handle fireworks.
- Keep children away from fireworks displays.