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Health

June 21, 2011

Tips for a safe Fourth of July from the American Red Cross

CLAREMORE — Each year, doctors and emergency medical personnel care for thousands of people injured by fireworks.  The American Red Cross urges individuals to practice safety when celebrating July Fourth this year.

“Fireworks should be left to the professionals on the Fourth of July and at all times,” said Mark Ogle, Director, Rogers/Mayes/Wagoner County Service Center, American Red Cross.  “Even something that seems harmless, like sparklers, can cause very bad burns whose scars can last a lifetime.”

However, people who insist on shooting off their own personal fireworks should be aware of the following first aid information when it comes to caring for burns.  For minor burns, these are three basic instructions.

First, stop the burning.  You can do this by immediately removing the victim from the source of the burn.  Next, cool the burned area with large amounts of cool water.  And third, cover the burn with a dry, clean or sterile dressing to help prevent infection.

A burn is considered serious if it causes a victim to have trouble breathing, or signs of burns are evident around the mouth and nose.  Burns that cover more than one body part or ten percent of an adult’s body surface also require immediate medical attention.

Burns on a child or elderly person as well as on victims with serious medical conditions, such as diabetes, can be serious.

Serious fireworks burns resulting from explosions can lead to shock and require immediate medical attention.  In those situations, care should be provided to minimize the effects of shock, and emergency assistance should be sought.

Frequently asked questions from first aid students include:

Can I put ointment or other medications on a burn?

•No.  Do not put any kind of ointment on a burn.  Ointment may seal in heat and does not relieve pain.  Do not use home remedies, such as butter or petroleum jelly (which can cause infection) on a burn.  Water is best to cool the burn and reduce the pain.

Is it better to use ice or ice water on a burn rather than tap water?

•No.  Do not use ice or ice water except on small superficial burns, such as a finger burned from touching a hot stove.  Ice causes body heat loss and may also make the burn deeper.

If the victim’s clothing is burned onto him or her, should I try to remove it?

•No.  Do not try to remove any clothing that is sticking to the victim. Call 911 or get the victim to a hospital emergency room immediately.

Those who do decide to use fireworks at home should have an American Red Cross first aid kit nearby.  Kits are available at the Rogers/Mayes/Wagoner County Service Center, 400 W. Will Rogers Blvd., Claremore.  Also, a variety of safety classes, including First Aid and CPR, are offered to prepare people for emergencies.

For additional information about outdoor and disaster safety tips, available safety classes, or purchasing first aid kits, call the Rogers/Mayes/Wagoner County Service Center of the American Red Cross at (918) 343-1803.

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