Maywood, IL - Safety should be the number one priority to keep in mind for this Fourth of July holiday. The firework filled holiday weekend is a time to celebrate with family and friends, not for spending time in the emergency room.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, an estimated 11 people died and about 12,000 people were taken to the hospital with firework-related injuries in 2015.
To keep you and your family safe during the holidays, 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 Fourth of July 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. "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 detached retinas and chemical and thermal burns to the eyes that can result in temporary and even permanent blindness. Half of those injured are not even handling the explosives themselves but are innocent bystanders. 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. "10 million Americans suffer irreversible hearing damage from noise. Some fireworks hit 135 decibels, well above the 85 decibel threshold when hearing damage can occur," said Candace Blank, AuD, audiologist."Wear ear buds when noises are loud to protect hearing because once lost, hearing cannot be recovered." The World Health Organization recommends children not be exposed to any noise louder than 140 decibels.
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."