As Autumn descends, there are many festivities to look forward to. Bonfire night can be very exciting for little ones, but it is important to be aware of the risks so that you can protect yourself and your children and ensure your evening is memorable for all the right reasons. A report from the NHS statistics revealed that that 4,506-people visited A&E from 2014-2015 for treatment of a firework-related injury. This is a huge increase of 111% from the injuries reported in 2009-10 and clearly illustrates why those attending fireworks displays should be equipped with the knowledge and skills to help, were there to be an emergency.
The safest way to enjoy fireworks is at an organised, regulated display, however if you are planning to host a firework display in your home, it is crucial that the fireworks you purchase conform to British Standard and you must ensure that they are suitable for the size of your garden.
You should always have at hand:
- an appropriately stocked first aid kit
- a bucket of sand to put out fireworks safely, easy access to plenty of water, and a fire blanket
- a bottle of sterile saline to irrigate eyes if sparks are blown into them.
Be sure to follow the Fireworks Code and never return to a firework that has not gone off and keep everyone, especially young children far away from the site of ignition.
Sparklers can be lots of fun, however they can get up to six times as hot as a pan of cooking oil or as hot as a welder’s torch and have the potential to cause some serious damage.
Children under 5 years old should not be allowed to use sparklers and children older than this should be supervised at all times, ensuring they remain a safe distance away from others. Be particularly careful with children in fancy dress, as costumes are rarely fire resistant. Sparklers should be lit one at a time and you should always wear gloves.
No matter how careful or prepared you are, injuries can still happen. The following first aid advice covers the most common eventualities.
If someone is burnt and the affected area is larger than the size of the casualty’s hand, you should phone for an ambulance immediately.
Hold the affected area under cold, running water for at least 10 minutes.
Special care should be taken if the burn is on a young child or an elderly person.
All deep burns of any size will require urgent hospital treatment.
Once the burn has been cooled for at least 15 minutes, the burn can be covered with cling film, a burns dressing or if the burn is on a hand, it can be inserted into a sterile plastic bag.
Never rush to dress a burn. The most important treatment is to cool the burn under cool running water
All burns should be assessed by medical professionals.
If clothing is on fire:
Remember STOP, DROP, WRAP and ROLL
Stop the person who’s clothing is on fire from panicking or running – any movement or breeze will fan the flames causing them to spread.
Drop the casualty to the ground and wrap them in a blanket, coat, or rug. Ensure they are made from inflammable fabrics such as wool
Roll the casualty along the ground until the flames have been smothered.
A severe burn exposes the casualty to a greater risk of infection, hypothermia and shock.
Instruct a helper to dial 999 or 112 for an ambulance
Start cooling the burn immediately under cool running water. Use a shower or hose if the burns are large. Keep cooling the burn while waiting for professional help to arrive. The area should be cooled for at least 10 minutes. Ensure you are cooling the burn and not the casualty, keep areas that are not burnt as warm and dry as possible.
Make the casualty as comfortable as possible, if appropriate, lie them down and elevate their legs
Whilst cooling, remove any constricting items (the area may swell), such as jewellery or clothing, from the affected area unless they are stuck to the burn. Wear sterile disposable gloves if they are available.
With all burns, never:
- touch the burn
- use lotions, ointments and creams
- use adhesive dressings
- pop or puncture blisters.
If someone’s inhaled smoke fumes:
- Move them away from the smoke so they can breathe in some fresh air
- Help them sit down in a comfortable position and loosen any tight clothing around their neck to help them breathe normally.
- If they don’t recover quickly, call 999/112 for an ambulance.
It is possible for debris and sparks from the fireworks to land in the eye and cause extreme discomfort.
Always wash your hands thoroughly or wear sterile gloves before touching the affected area.
Open the casualty’s eye and look carefully:
If there is anything embedded in the eye, cover both eyes and phone for an ambulance
If you can see an object moving freely in the eye, use a sterile eye wash and gently irrigate the eye to remove it
Seek medical advice if the casualty is still in pain or discomfort.
It is strongly advised that everyone attends a practical or online first aid course to understand what to do in a medical emergency.
By Emma Hammett of First Aid for Life
First Aid for Life is an award-winning, fully-regulated First Aid Training business. Our trainers are highly experienced medical, health and emergency services professionals who will tailor the training to your needs. Onlinefirstaid.com is the leading provider of interactive regulated and non-regulated first aid e-learning.
First Aid for Life provides this information for guidance and it is not in any way a substitute for medical advice. First Aid for Life is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made, or actions taken based on this information.