Newswise — Fireworks. Parades. Outdoor sports. Barbecues. The Fourth of July holiday weekend is a time to celebrate with family and friends, not spend time in the emergency room.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, about 230 people go to the emergency department every day during the month surrounding the July Fourth holiday with fireworks-related injuries alone.
Here are a few tips from Loyola Medicine experts to protect your health this summer holiday season:
Don't play with fire. "More than 50 percent of Independence Day injuries are burns," said Arthur Sanford, MD, a burn surgeon. "Hands and fingers are the most injured body parts. Leave fireworks to the experts, and especially keep children away from fireworks. Sparklers may seem safe but actually burn at temperatures about 2,000 degrees, akin to a blow torch."
Protect your eyes. "According to Prevent Blindness America, more than 1,300 eye injuries were reported in the past year due to fireworks, almost double from the previous year," said Eileen Gable, OD, optometrist. "Fireworks can cause eye injuries including burns, both thermal and chemical, lacerations and deep tissue injury leading to vision loss. Half of those injured were not handling the explosives themselves but were innocent bystanders. Children are often at greater risk as they are not aware of the dangers associated with improper handling of fireworks including sparklers. Stay 500 feet away from fireworks, respect safety barriers, and do not touch fireworks that failed to detonate. If handling fireworks, wear protective eyewear, and if injured, seek medical attention immediately. Do not rub or flush eyes as that may make the injury worse."
Save your hearing. "26 million Americans suffer irreversible hearing damage from noise. Some fireworks can create 150-175 decibels of impulse or blast noise. At these high intensities, adults need to be a minimum of 50-60 feet away in order to prevent noise-induced hearing loss, and children need to be 160-200 feet away," said Candace Blank, AuD, audiologist."Wear earplugs to protect hearing when noises are loud, because once permanent ear damage has occurred, hearing cannot be recovered." Avoid sunburn. "Use a ping pong ball-sized handful of lotion with an SPF of 30 or higher approximately 30 minutes before you go outdoors," said Rebecca Tung, MD, dermatologist. "Pay attention to covering the tips of the ears, the nose, the back of the neck as well as chest, arms and legs. Don't forget balm for your lips. And reapply every two hours."
Stay hydrated. "Drinking eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day is the general recommendation, with more needed if you are outdoors in the sun," says Keith Veselik, MD, family medicine. "Avoid dehydration by eating fruits and vegetables and definitely take time outs in the shade and cool temperatures to avoid fatigue."