Fourth of July festivities can take unexpected downturns when preventable injuries are sustained due to improper use of fireworks, said Candice Thibodeaux, Christus Health Southwestern Louisiana clinical director of emergency services.
"Around this time of year, we begin to see people seeking different levels of care for firework related emergencies," she said.
Injuries range from minor to severe, however, firework injuries are preventable if you take the proper safety measures.
Those safety measures should begin with monitoring children around fireworks. "They should only be spectators," Thibodeaux said.
Children are not equipped to handle fireworks nor can they adequately follow their safety recommendations. Even with sparklers, Thibodeaux said adults should be close by to supervise.
Safety should also extend to being aware of environmental factors surrounding firework displays. "Always have a bucket of water near just in case there is an accident. If you're near grass or a patch of dry land, you need to have a water hose or a bucket of water to extinguish flames if necessary."
Handheld fireworks should only be handled by adults, at all times, she added. "Under no circumstances should you point or throw a firework."
Direct penetration wounds are often seen as a result of mishandling fireworks in this fashion, she said.
Being aware of your proximity to a fuse or lit firework is also an important safety tip when handling fireworks. Keeping a safe distance away after lighting, not attempting to retrieve lit fireworks and refraining from using glass or metal containers will also help ensure a safe celebration.
"Never place your body over a firework when you're lighting them and never carry them in your pocket," she said.
If burns are sustained but the skin remains intact, home treatment will do. "Keep that area clean and dry," she said.
However, if injuries penetrate the skin and especially if such injuries occur in children, professional medical attention is best. Whether it's a doctor's office, urgent care or emergency room, she said, "Seek what medical care is open at the time of the injury."
In light of social distancing and caps on large gatherings, Thibodeaux said it is likely more families will participate in home firework displays. "We need to make sure we're enjoying those fireworks within the constraints of Summer social distancing. That includes not having large gatherings of people to view fireworks."