The impending Fourth of July holiday conjures images of American flags, parades, barbeques and fireworks. Many of us will attend a public fireworks display with our families at the end of the day to celebrate America’s independence. Some people will host their own firework festivities, which often lead to injuries, especially burns. Those desiring a personal firework display should be aware of Georgia law that prohibits any fireworks that explode including Roman candles, torpedoes, skyrockets, and firecrackers. None of the aforementioned products are licensed, inspected, or regulated by the state. So, if you purchase these types of fireworks, a guarantee of quality and safety does not exist.
Fireworks are not the only summer activity that could lead to burns. Anytime there is a fire, explosion, or hot substance, there is the potential for being burned. Grilling, cooking, and fire pits could also cause burn injuries. Three types of burns occur. The severity of the burn is determined by how deep the burn goes through the skin. Knowing the different types of burns and how to treat each could help us care for someone if he or she gets burned.
First-degree burns, the most common form, only affect the most outer layer of skin. These types of burns can be incurred when someone touches a hot burner or gets too much sun. While these burns are benign, they can be very painful because the burns irritate nerve endings, especially on fingertips. These burns tend to have slight redness or discoloration, as well as some swelling and pain. First-degree burns do not blister, and the skin does not break. Typically, first-degree burns do not require medical attention. Try running cool (not cold) water over the affected area for several minutes. Burn cream may be applied, but do not use butter, antiseptic creams, or homemade remedies on the injury.
Second-degree burns can be anything from a sunburn that blisters to quick flash burns. These types of burns require some medical treatment. Second-degree burns leave red blotchy marks on the skin. Blisters will form on the injury because these burns permeate deeper into the layers of the skin. These injuries can swell or ooze, and they are extremely painful. To decrease the pain, prevent air from coming into contact with the burn. First place the burned area in cool water. Do not use ice or break blisters. Applying gauze lightly around the wound can be helpful, but make sure it is loose. Depending on the size and severity of the burn, it may be wise to seek medical attention.
These burns can be deadly. If someone has a third-degree burn, the individual needs to see a medical professional immediately. Third-degree burns differ from the other two because the skin is charred. Damage happens to all the skin layers with these types of burns. Frequently, people who experience third-degree burns do not initially feel pain because nerve endings have been destroyed. Explosions, fires, and boiling liquids can cause third-degree burns. Remove any tight clothing that is not on the actual burned area. If possible, submerge the injury in cool water, then dry off and place a loose, sterile cloth on the area. If an extremity sustains a burn, then elevate it higher than the heart. Keep the injured person still until help arrives.
Summer brings many opportunities for us to celebrate, but it is important to remember safety, especially when it comes to fireworks. Stay safe and leave it to the professionals by attending a public fireworks show this Fourth of July.