Firework-related burns and first aid

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Fruitland — As families prepare to set off fireworks or be near them, officials want to remind individuals of what to do in case of a firework-related burn.

In 2016, there were an estimated 11,100 firework-related injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments, according to an annual report from the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Depending on the level and size of a burn, some injuries can be treated at home while others require medical attention.

First-degree burns are associated with only the top layer of the skin, where the skin can turn red, swell and be painful. Those burns can typically be treated at home, said Dr. Ryan David, who works at St. Luke’s Fruitland Family Medicine Clinic.

Anyone with a first-degree burn can use cold water –not iced water–  to cool the burn for five minutes to decrease heat in the area as well as help with inflammation, David said.

“However, if the red burn is bigger than the size of dime, it may need to be looked at depending on the location,” David added.

Second-degree burns will also turn red, swell and be painful, but more often, they will also blister, David said.

Individuals should seek urgent care if the burn is bigger than a size of a dime, David said, or if it’s located on the genitals and if there are signs of infection. He warns to not pop blisters as doing so may expose the burn to infection.

He advises to cool a second-degree burn as well as keep it clean and covered.

A thin layer of ointment, such as petroleum jelly or aloe vera, may be used on the burn. A sterile non-stick gauze may lightly be taped or wrapped over the burn, but do not use a dressing that can shed fibers, because they can get caught in the burn, according to MedlinePlus, a health website by the National Library of Medicine.

Any burn that turns black, would indicate a third-degree burn, David said, and in those cases, people should seek immediate assistance as offered by emergency rooms.

“Sometimes those burns can be painless because the nerves have been damaged,” David said. “The edges may be painful but the center may not because of the damage to the nerve endings.”

David encourages people to be safe when using fireworks today, adding that most serious injuries are because of aerial fireworks, which are both illegal to use in Oregon and Idaho without a proper permit.

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