How to Treat a Fireworks Burn

Because of the nature of lighting fireworks, ensuing burns typically occur on the head, face and hands but can also involve the soles of bare feet or other parts of the body. Most burns fall into the first or second-degree categories. While you can treat minor burns successfully with first aid at home, second and third-degree burns need immediate medical attention. To help, we’ve compiled some useful information on burns and what to do should you or your loved one experience one this Fourth of July Weekend.

Qualification of burns:

First degree – The skin turns red but it does not blister. It is somewhat painful, much like a sunburn. A first-degree burn is a superficial burn.

Second degree – The outer layer of the skin is burned and part of the dermis is damaged. The burn is very painful and will likely develop blisters.

Third degree – The skin will be charred or white. The epidermis and dermis (top two layers of skin) are irreversibly damaged.

When should I call 911 or seek immediate medical attention?

Seek immediate medical attention when…

  • You experience a second or third-degree burn
  • Skin develops patches of white, brown or black
  • The burn is deep
  • The burn is larger than 3 inches (about 8 centimeters) in diameter
  • The burn covers the hands, feet, face, groin, buttocks or a major joint

Things needed to help burn victims:

  • Cold running water
  • A clean, dry cloth
  • Topical spray or cream
  • Oral analgesic
  • Antiseptic cream or hydro gel
  • Blanket: It’s also a good idea to have a dedicated fire blanket or wool blanket on hand. Those won’t melt or burn if exposed to direct flame, so can help you smother anyone that manages to light themselves on fire. You may need to treat someone for shock as well, so that blanket will give them something to lie down on or something you can wrap them in to keep them warm.

In order to successfully treat a minor burn, follow these important steps:

  1. Cool the burn. Run cool water over the area or soak it in cool water (not ice water) and apply a wet compress until the pain eases.
  2. Remove rings or other tight items from the burned area. Try to do this quickly and gently before the area swells.
  3. If blisters form, don’t break them. Fluid-filled blisters protect against infection. If a blister breaks, clean the area with water or mild soap. Then apply an antibiotic ointment. If a rash appears, discontinue use of the ointment.
  4. Bandage the burn. Cover the burn with a sterile gauze bandage. Do not use fluffy cotton as the bandage must be non-adhering. Wrap it loosely to avoid putting pressure on burned skin. Bandaging keeps air off the area, reduces pain and protects blistered skin.
  5. If needed, take an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB), naproxen sodium (Aleve) or acetaminophen (Tylenol).

From all of us at Industrial Safety Group, we hope you and your loved ones enjoy a safe and healthy 4th of July!

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