Each year, colorful celebrations fill the sky with fireworks worldwide. But while we enjoy these festivities, firecracker injuries are still a big worry. Over 260 fireworks-related injury cases in the Philippines have been reported by the Department of Health (DOH), and the top causes of injuries were kwitis, boga, 5-Star, unknown firecrackers, and fountain. These cases were recorded from December 21, 2022, to January 2, 2023, which is higher by 42% compared to the 185 cases recorded in 2021.
We recently spoke with Doc Z, the Medical Director at Doctor Anywhere. She gave important tips on preventing firecracker injuries and how to provide first aid if needed.
Preventing Firecracker Injuries
"Preventing firecracker injuries starts with understanding and abiding by local laws and regulations," Doc Z emphasizes. "Familiarize yourself with the restrictions on firecracker use in your area and opt for safer alternatives whenever possible." From choosing safe alternatives to educating and supervising, Doc Z outlined essential steps:
1. Choose Safe Alternatives: Attend professional fireworks displays rather than lighting them at home. Consider non-firework celebrations like laser shows or glow sticks.
2. Read and Follow Instructions: Strictly adhere to manufacturer instructions and never modify fireworks.
3. Maintain Safe Distance and Wear Safety Gear: Keep a safe distance when igniting fireworks and wear safety gear like glasses and ear protection.
4. Designate a Sober Ignitor: Avoid alcohol consumption while handling fireworks. Have a sober person manage the ignition.
5. Use Stable Surfaces and Keep Water Nearby: Place fireworks on stable surfaces, and have water sources nearby to handle unexpected fires or to soak used fireworks before disposal.
6. Dispose of used fireworks safely and responsibly. Do not leave them lying around where they can be accidentally ignited.
First Aid for Firecracker Injuries
"Providing initial care for firecracker injuries requires quick and cautious action," says Doc Z. She highlighted key steps for immediate care:
1. Quickly check how bad the injury is—figure out if it's a small burn, a more serious burn, or another kind of injury like cuts or eye problems. If it's really bad or life-threatening, call 911 or go to the nearest hospital or clinic immediately for professional help.
2. For small burns (like first-degree burns), cool it down with running cold water for about 10 minutes to ease the pain. Don't use ice or very cold water; it can hurt the skin. After, cover the burn with a clean, non-stick bandage.
3. If the burn is more serious (second or third-degree), don't use cold water. Instead, cover it with a clean, non-stick bandage or cloth. Keep the person warm and lift the burned area if possible. Watch for signs of shock, like pale skin or rapid breathing. Don't pop any blisters, and get professional medical help.
4. If there's an eye injury, don't touch or rub the eye. Gently cover it with a clean, sterile dressing or cloth. Secure it in place, but don't press on the eye. Get medical help right away for eye injuries.
5. For cuts or lacerations, press down with a clean cloth or sterile bandage to stop the bleeding. If something is stuck in the wound, don't take it out. Keep it stable and call for medical help.
6. Don't put creams, ointments, bandages, or tape right on burns—they can cause infections.
Doc Z strongly emphasizes seeking professional medical evaluation, even for seemingly minor injuries. "First aid is crucial, but it doesn't replace expert medical care," she stresses.
During the holidays, it's important to think about safety first. Doc Z's advice on preventing firecracker injuries and providing quick care gives us a simple guide to keep our festivities safe and fun. So, let's have fun during our celebrations while making sure everyone stays safe and happy. Our doctors are available online 24/7, even on weekends and holidays. You can talk to a general practitioner in minutes for medical advice. However, for serious injuries, it's best to call 911 or go to the nearest hospital or clinic immediately.
Wishing you a safe and happy holidays!