Firefighters Burn Center Urges Safety

Summer is a time of vacations, cookouts, picnics and, of course, the Fourth of July. However, summertime also brings an increase in fires and injuries. Cooking out and using fireworks are part of many individuals’ fun holiday celebrations, but both can lead to injury. Fireworks were involved in an estimated 8,700 injuries treated in hospitals in the United States in 2012, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

“The good news is that these injuries are 100 percent preventable,” said Dr. William Hickerson, Medical Director at Firefighters Burn Center. “The best way to protect your family is to not use fireworks at home – period. The only safe way to enjoy fireworks is to attend an outdoor public display put on by specially trained professionals.”

Fireworks pose a serious injury risk to anyone using them, and they should not be used by children under any circumstances. Parents often do not realize the risks involved with children using or being near the use of fireworks. Sparklers, the most frequently used product by children on the Fourth of July, are among the most dangerous according to Dr. Hickerson.

“Sparklers burn at 1800 degrees Fahrenheit and produce sparkles that can cause eye injuries or catch surrounding objects on fire. Furthermore, once it quits sparkling, it stays hot for quite a while and can cause a burn if a child picks it up,” said Dr. Hickerson.

Beyond injury concerns, fireworks pose a fire risk. According to Dr. Hickerson, what we think of as “legal” fireworks cause more than 20,000 fires each year that result in property damage.

Another fire and injury concern of the season is fires related to cooking out. Fire in the grill, under hot dogs and burgers, is a welcome sight, but fire anywhere else can make your Fourth of July barbecue memorable for all the wrong reasons.

The staff at Firefighters Burn Center, a full service burn center housed at Regional Medical Center, knows all too well how a life-altering burn injury can happen in a matter of seconds. Knowing and following a few safety tips will help everyone have a safe summer.

For individuals who insist on using fireworks themselves, the Burn Center offers the following tips for preventing firework injuries:

  • First and foremost, if fireworks are illegal where you live, do not purchase or use them.
  • Always have an adult supervise firework activities, and never allow children under 12 to play with or ignite fireworks.
  • Use common sense.  Alcohol and fireworks do not mix. Use a “designated shooter” for the safety of everyone present.
  •  Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.
  • Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or mishap. Never try to relight or handle a malfunctioning firework. Douse and soak with water, and then dispose of it properly.
  • Never give a lighted sparkler to another person. Also, never throw, wave or run with sparklers.

To ensure your cookout is a safe success, the Burn Center offers the following grilling safety tips:

  • Before using a grill, check the connection between the propane tank and the fuel line. Make sure the tubes where the air and gas mix are not blocked.
  • Do not overfill the propane tank.
  • Do not wear loose clothing while cooking at a barbecue.
  • Be careful when using lighter fluid. Do not add fluid to an already lit fire because the flame can flash back up into the container and explode.
  • Keep all matches and lighters away from children. Teach your children to report any loose matches or lighters to an adult immediately. Supervise children around outdoor grills.
  • Dispose of hot coals properly – douse them with plenty of water, and stir them to ensure that the fire is out. Never place them in plastic, paper or wooden containers.
  • Never grill/barbecue in enclosed areas as carbon monoxide could be produced.