Keeping children cool and hydrated in the hot summer heat are vital to preventing heatstroke.

By Heather Zimmerman, M.D.

You never see them coming, and that’s why they’re called accidents. Though beautiful, fireworks are dangerous objects that can cause injuries resulting in everything from a small shock to blindness or an amputation. However, depending on the severity of the injury, there are some actions you can take to help the victim.

Treating Firework Injuries

First-degree burns: With the intensity of a mild sunburn, first degree burns can be treated by anyone.

  • Clean the wound with cool, not cold, water.
  • Cover the injury with sterile, moist dressing.

If necessary, a dose of over the counter pain reliever can be taken.

Second-degree burns: Second-degree burns affect more than just the top layer of skin and will often cause blistering. To treat a burn of this severity:

  • Run the affected area under cool, not cold, water for 10 minutes.
  • Once it has cooled, cover the area in moist, sterile, non-fluffy dressing to prevent infection.
  • If the burn is larger than the victim’s palm, seek additional medical attention.

Do not break burn blisters or apply any ointment.

Third-degree burns: This type of burn always requires professional medical attention. The victim may not feel as much pain as a minor burn because third-degree burns are deep injuries that damage nerve-endings. Call an ambulance immediately, and in the meantime:

  • Remove any clothing touching the burn, unless it is stuck in the affected skin.
  • Run the injury under cool water until it has cooled, at least 10 minutes.
  • Cover the wound in a moist, sterile, non-fluffy dressing to prevent infection.

As with second-degree burns, do not break blisters or apply ointment.

Eye injuries: If a spark or piece of debris gets in a victim’s eye, cover it with a plastic cup (or similar object) to create a shield and prevent friction. Do not rub or flush the eye, take any pain medication or apply ointment. Immediately drive the victim to the nearest medical location.

Loss of limb: In the event that a finger, toe, etc. is removed from the body:

  • Cover the appendage in moist, sterile gauze.
  • Place the appendage in a sterile bag.
  • Place the bag on ice.
  • Drive the victim to the nearest medical location.

Putting the body part directly on ice can damage tissue.

Prevent and Be Prepared

If you plan on using fireworks this holiday, there are some precautions you can take to prevent injuries and be prepared in the case of an emergency.

  • Use fireworks properly. Do not hold them while lighting or throw in the direction of people, buildings or piles of yard waste.
  • When lighting fireworks, pull your hair back and do not wear loose clothing.
  • Do not let children younger than 5 years of age light fireworks, not even sparklers.
  • Always keep an emergency kit nearby. Kits should consist of: a bucket of water or hose, a bucket of dirt, sterile dressing, medical gloves, a wool blanket to smother open flames and a plastic cup.
  • If possible, have an individual trained in first aid present.

Ensure that there is an individual who is capable of driving to the hospital at all times.