Happy 4th of July!  The experts at our Elvis Presley Trauma Center and Firefighters Burn Center are sharing their advice to keep the holiday safe and fun.

If you’re spending time outdoors in the heat and sun, wear sunscreen, stay hydrated, and be alert to signs of heat illness.

When it comes to fireworks, it’s best to leave it to the professionals to avoid serious burns, eye injuries, and hearing damage.

For many of us, July 4 is a highlight of the summer – a time to hang out with family and friends, eat good food, and “ooh and aah” over fireworks. Don’t let what should be a fun day turn uncomfortable, dangerous or even tragic.

Geretta Hollins, Community Outreach and Injury Prevention Program Coordinator for Burn and Trauma Services at Regional One Health, said enjoying the 4th of July safely means being smart about the sun and heat during the day and avoiding fireworks dangers at night.

“Our trauma team wants everyone to have a safe and enjoyable summer and holiday,” she said. “Too much time in the sun can lead to serious consequences, and using fireworks can result in dire outcomes. Remember these tips to prevent serious injury.”

Stay safe in the sun and heat

During the day, the 4th of July is a popular time for picnics and barbecues, parades, and other outdoor activities. However, “Too much time in the sun can lead to serious consequences, such as sunburn, skin changes and heatstroke,” Hollins warned.

She said it’s important to apply sunscreen according to directions and to wear sunglasses and a hat if you plan to be out in the sun for an extended period of time.

If you’re spending the day outside in the heat and sun, make sure to wear sunscreen, stay hydrated, and be on the looking for symptoms of heat illness like dizziness, headache, and rapid heartrate.

Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water or sports drinks. Remember, caffeinated sodas and alcoholic beverages actually work against hydration.

Take breaks to go indoors or into the shade to cool off. Watch for symptoms of heat illness, such as heavy sweating, faintness, dizziness, weak and rapid pulse, headache, etc.

If anyone experiences these symptoms, move them out of the heat to a cooler spot. Elevate their legs and feet, remove tight or heavy clothing, and have them sip chilled water. If their symptoms don’t improve or get worse, call 911.

Avoid serious injury from fireworks

While daytime activities can pose sun and heat concerns, evening on the 4th of July is dominated by fireworks.

“They are a sight to see, but can also be very dangerous if not handled properly,” Hollins said. “Remember the use of consumer fireworks in Shelby County is illegal. Consider attending one of the many fireworks shows throughout the county; they are free, legal, and operated by experts!”

Hollins noted trauma and burn centers like those at Regional One Health see emergencies such as serious burns, eye and facial injuries, and hearing loss as a result of improper use of fireworks. What’s more, fireworks contribute to home and motor vehicle fires.

Fireworks are best left to the professionals, and there are plenty of shows available throughout the area. If you do use fireworks on your own, keep them away from people and structures and have water nearby in case of fire.

She offered some tips for avoiding a trip to the emergency department:

  • Never light fireworks indoors
  • Never use fireworks while impaired by drugs or alcohol
  • Wear protective eyewear when using fireworks or standing near fireworks
  • Never hold lighted fireworks in your hands
  • Only use fireworks away from people, houses, and flammable material
  • Keep a bucket of water nearby to fully extinguish fireworks that don’t go off, or in case of a fire

The Elvis Presley Trauma Center is the only Level-1 Trauma Center in a 150-mile radius of Memphis. A multispecialty team of experts is available 24/7 to treat the most critically-injured patients from Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas, and parts of Missouri.

Regional One Health’s Firefighters Burn Center is the only full-service burn center in a 400-mile radius of Memphis that is verified by the American Burn Association. It provides comprehensive services including emergency and critical care, intensive care, specialized burn rehabilitation, and laser and plastic surgery.

To learn more about the lifesaving care our team provides, visit www.regionalonehealth.org/firefighters-burn-center/ and www.regionalonehealth.org/main-campus/regional-medical-center/elvis-presley-trauma-center/