Ahhh, July 4th. Food, fireworks, fun… and a trip to the emergency room? As Americans gather with family and friends to celebrate Independence Day, thousands of them will end up in emergency rooms with injuries from fireworks, sparklers, barbecues and more.
“At this time of year, we’re definitely seeing an increase in the number of patients suffering from burns, dehydration and heat exhaustion,” says Kevin L. Taylor, MD, medical director of the emergency department at the Bethesda East Hospital, part of Baptist Health. South Florida.
Some of them can be life threatening, he adds, requiring prompt assessment and treatment by a qualified emergency medicine specialist.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), dozens of people are killed by fireworks each year and about 10,000 people are injured sufficiently serious to require emergency care. Many of these injuries are due to improperly handled fireworks, causing injuries to the head, face, eyes and ears, and in particular to the hands and fingers.
Take advantage … with caution!
What can you do to keep yourself and your family safe on July 4th? First and foremost, says Dr Taylor, we have to remember that we are still in a pandemic.
If you are planning to host or attend a July 4th meeting, he advises you to exercise caution and follow the CDC’s current guidelines for coronavirus.
“If you are fully immunized and everyone else is doing it too, celebrating Independence Day with your family and friends should be safe,” he says. “However, if some party members are still not vaccinated, outdoor gatherings would provide more opportunities for social distancing and ventilation.”
Do not soak up and ignite
When it comes to fireworks, Dr Taylor says remembering that drinking alcohol while using any type of pyrotechnic device is an invitation to visit the emergency room. “You’d be surprised what some people are able to do to themselves when they’ve drunk too much,” he says. “And with the fireworks, they’re not just putting themselves in danger, but everyone around them.”
If you choose to celebrate with fireworks during the holidays, Dr. Taylor recommends following these Important Safety Tips for CPSC Fireworks:
- Always place fireworks at a safe distance from any flammable object or structure.
- Never place any part of your body directly on a fireworks device while lighting the wick. Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting a fireworks display.
- Never attempt to relight or pick up fireworks that have not fully ignited.
- Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
- Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other incident.
- Light the fireworks one at a time, then quickly back up.
- Never carry fireworks in a pocket and never shoot them into metal or glass containers.
- After the fireworks have finished burning, spray the old device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before throwing it away to avoid a waste fire.
It’s also important, Dr Taylor adds, to keep a close watch on children and maintain a safe distance between them and fireworks. “Due to the risk of burns and eye injuries, children should never be allowed to play with or light fireworks and should always be supervised when they are near or near fireworks. artifice of any kind. “
Sparklers are especially popular with children, but according to the National Fire Protection Association, they account for over 25% of emergency room visits for fireworks injuries.
The National Safety Council notes that sparklers burn at temperatures of around 2,000 degrees – hot enough to melt some metals – and that they can quickly ignite clothing. Children have also suffered severe burns from dropping sparklers on their feet. He suggests parents consider using safer alternatives, such as glow sticks, confetti poppers, or colorful streamers.
Watch out for the grill
The same “do’s and don’ts” list for fireworks also applies to grilling, says Dr. Taylor. “People who have drunk too much shouldn’t be grilling or anywhere near a grill,” he says. “We have seen nasty burns from people who have had close contact with their grills.”
People who use cooking oil sprays to lubricate their charcoal grills should be especially careful, says Dr. Taylor. “In a split second, the fire from the coals can rise up the spray to the bomb and it can explode in your hands.”
BBQs can also pose a risk for foodborne illness, warns Dr Taylor, who says the risk increases if food – meat, in particular – is at room temperature for more than three to four hours. “Remember to keep cold things cold and hot things hot, and to quickly store leftovers in the fridge,” he advises.
Beat the heat
Anyone who lives in South Florida knows how oppressive our summers can be, with their relentless heat and humidity. Dr Taylor says that is why people need to be extra careful when they are outdoors, especially if they are working or exercising.
“Dehydration can quickly turn into heat exhaustion and heat stroke which, if left untreated, can be fatal,” warns Dr. Taylor. “Use caution when exposed to our intense sun and heat, and remember to prehydrate yourself before going outside.”
To avoid the risk of sunburn and skin cancer, he recommends staying out of the sun when it’s strongest – usually between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. here in South Florida – and using a adequate sun protection when going outdoors.
Want to cool off in the pool? Unintentional drowning is much more common during the summer months, says Dr. Taylor, especially in South Florida where so many people have swimming pools. “In a busy pool with a lot of activity all around, a child can slip underwater unnoticed and drown in seconds,” he says. “Make sure all children in the pool are closely supervised by a responsible, non-drinking adult.”
Dr Taylor says he understands the need people have to be with each other – July 4 and every day – and hopes they can enjoy their time together safely. “Have fun and be careful. I think most people would rather spend the holidays with family and friends than with a bunch of doctors and nurses.