Here’s how you and your family can stay safe this bonfire season

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As Bonfire Night approaches, we're issuing first aid advice to help people prepare, avoid serious injury and a trip to hospital when lighting fireworks at home.

While we'll be keeping people safe at small and large-scale firework displays across Wales, many families across the country will be having their own displays at home and with this, comes the added risk of injury.

Injuries can be minimised by following the correct firework and sparkler safety guidance, often found on the outside of packaging, but no matter how prepared we are, accidents can still happen and knowing how to react quickly could save lives.

Here's our top tips and first aid advice for some of the most common injuries associated with bonfires and fireworks.

Things to consider before lighting fireworks at home:

First, make sure your environment is safe and you've brushed up on your firework safety. North Wales Fire and Rescue have some great advice.

Always keep a fully stocked first aid kit nearby. This way it’ll be easy to access if an accident happens.

Some handy items to keep near you include plasters, sterile dressings of different sizes and including eye pad dressings and burns dressings, alcohol free cleansing wipes, a foil blanket, and gloves.

What to do is someone has inhaled smoke:

Excessive smoke can come from several sources, from a faulty firework to a bonfire lit in a poorly ventilated area.

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

What to do is someone is burned or scalded:

Burns are the most common injury at fireworks displays. Sparklers, lit fireworks, and the bonfire itself all pose a risk of causing burns.

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 20 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, arrange a trip to hospital or call 999

Gently remove any constricting clothing or jewellery before the injured area begins to swell. Don’t 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

What to do if someone has debris in their 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 for a minimum 20 minutes

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

“Enjoying fireworks in the garden is a great way of spending time with family and friends, but we urge everyone to stay safe by brushing up on their first aid knowledge and familiarising themselves with steps they may need to take in an emergency.

It’s always best to be prepared but if the worst does happen, having the knowledge and confidence to act quickly can make a huge difference to the severity and lasting impact on an injury.”

St John Ambulance Cymru, Head of Training, Philip Morris 

More first aid advice is available here.

More firework safety advice is available from South Wales Fire and Rescue and Mid and West Wales Fire Service.

Published November 2nd 2021

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