First aid advice for your family this firework season

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As the nights get darker and the weather gets colder, many of us usually begin to look forward to spending time with loved ones at firework and bonfire displays in our towns and cities.

Each year, our volunteers are on hand to support public firework displays by keeping people safe and treating minor injuries, but as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, many large-scale events have been cancelled.

We’re appealing for people to plan ahead and be mindful of the risks often found at smaller-scale, garden displays this firework season.

Prevention is better than treatment

The best approach to staying safe is reducing the likelihood of injury happening in the first place.

Having the right equipment is essential in helping you to act quickly so before you light any fireworks, make sure you have a fully stocked first aid kit nearby and that it’s in a place where you can reach for it quickly if needed.
North Wales Fire and Rescue Service have great advice about how you can make sure your display is safe.

In the event something does go wrong, our first aid advice can help you treat some of the most common firework and bonfire related injuries.

Smoke inhalation

Where there’s fire, there’s smoke. Symptoms of smoke inhalation may include coughing, shortness of breath and eye irritation.
If someone has inhaled smoke fumes:

  • Move them away from the smoke to allow them to breathe fresh air
  • Help them sit down in a comfortable position and loosen any tight clothing around their neck to help them breathe normally
  • If they don’t recover quickly, call 999/112 for an ambulance

Burns or Scalds

Burns are the most common injuries at fireworks displays. People often pick up sparklers at the wrong end or even come into contact with lit fireworks.
If someone has a burn or scald:

  • Move the person away from the source of heat
  • Place the burn or scald under cool running water for a minimum of 10 minutes. If water is not available, any cold, harmless liquid, such as milk or canned drinks, can be used
  • If the burn is: to a child; larger than your hand; on the face, hands or feet; or is a deep burn, call 999
  • Gently remove any constricting clothing or jewellery before the injured area begins to swell. DO NOT remove clothing if it has stuck to the burn
  • Once cool, cover the burn loosely with kitchen film or place a clean plastic bag over a foot or hand. Apply lengthways, not around the limb, because the injured area may swell. If you do not have kitchen film use a sterile dressing or a non-fluffy pad and bandage
  • Avoid using creams or oils, or pop blisters - this could make the injury worse
  • Monitor and treat for shock if necessary
  • Severe burns (large and/or deep) and all burns to infants should be checked as soon as possible by a doctor

Debris in the Eye

All eye injuries are potentially serious because of the risk to the casualty's vision. Shrapnel from fireworks and wayward sparklers are just some of the ways this type of injury can occur.
If someone has something in their eye:

  • Tell them not to rub it – they could aggravate the injury
  • Pour clean water over their eye to wash it out and to cool the burn
  • If this doesn’t work either, do not touch anything that’s stuck in their eye – cover it with a clean dressing or non-fluffy material and take them straight to hospital

We know this year’s been difficult for many and the cancellation of public firework displays might be disappointing however, it’s really important we do what we can to minimise the risks to both other people and ourselves when lighting fireworks at home.

For those who choose to enjoy fireworks in gardens this year, we’re reminding them of the importance of minimising their risk of injury by being prepared and by following firework safety advice issued by the fire service.

Swift first aid treatment has been proven to save lives and, in the event of a firework or bonfire accident, having the confidence to act quickly and treat the injury can make a huge difference to its severity and lasting impact, both physically on the skin and the potential longer mental health consequences of the accident.

St John Ambulance Cymru, Chief Executive Officer, Helen Smith

Please make sure whatever your plans, you're following Welsh Government fire-break rules.

Published October 28th 2020

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