Remember, Remember the 5th of November

As the 5th November approaches, we take a look at how to treat some of the most common injuries sustained as people celebrate bonfire night.

Fireworks cause hundreds of avoidable injuries every year. In a period of 5 years it was estimated that over 6500 people were hurt and required hospital treatment due to an injury sustained by fireworks. Over 500 of those injuries occurred at family or private parties whilst others happened following incidents in the street or other public places and large public displays. Around half of all injuries happen to children under the age of 16 years. That’s a lot of young people who may have ugly burn scars – for life.

The main injury that is presented at hospital requiring treatment around this time of year are, yes you’ve guessed it, burns!
Did you know that a simple sparkler can reach a temperature of up to 2000°C? That’s 20 times the heat of boiling water!

How should we treat burns?

  • Keep calm. It won’t help if you’re panicking, you’ll only make your casualty worry more.
  • Cool the burn with cool (not freezing) water for at least 20 minutes.
  • If there is any clothing sticking to the burn, cut around the material sticking to the skin – do not pull at any material sticking to the injury
  • If you can, take off any belts or jewellery near the burn that the casualty is wearing as burned skin can swell
  • Do not touch the burn or burst any blisters.
  • Cover the burn with clean, smooth, non-fluffy material (clingfilm is perfect if you have some to hand), to protect from infection.
  • If the casualty’s clothing has caught fire, practice STOP / DROP / WRAP & ROLL. Get the casualty to STOP, DROP to the floor and WRAP them in an inflammable blanket, coat or rug. ROLL them along the ground until they flames have been smothered.
  • Get the casualty to hospital unless it is a small burn.
  • Call 999 if the burn is very serious, or the person is unconscious or has affected a child or someone elderly
  • Don’t give a casualty who has been seriously burned anything to eat or drink. They may need for anaesthetic at the hospital.
  • Never rub butter, oil or ointment into a burn

Eye Injuries

Fireworks fly – a rocket can typically reach up to 150 miles per hour and can easily travel 200 meters into the air. Should debris or sparks land in the eye whilst the fireworks are shooting about, it can cause extreme discomfort. 
How do we treat eye injuries?
Always wash your hands thoroughly or wear sterile gloves before touching the affected area.
  • Open the casualty’s affected eye and look carefully.
  • If there is anything embedded in the eye, cover both eyes and phone for an ambulance.
  • If you can see an object moving freely in the eye, gently irrigate the eye to remove it by getting the casualty to tilt their head to the side and rinsing thoroughly with sterile eye wash or clean running water. 
  • Seek medical advice if the casualty is still in pain or discomfort

Smoke Inhalation

Bonfires are a huge part of the celebrations. However, smoke can inflame your lungs and airways causing them to swell and block oxygen which can in turn cause significant difficultly in breathing. 
If someone is suffering from potential smoke inhalation, follow these steps:
  • Move them away from the smoke so they can breathe fresh air.
  • Help them sit down in a comfortable position and loosen any tight clothing around their neck to help them breathe normally.
  • Assist them in taking their asthma medication if indicated.
  • If they don’t recover quickly, call 999 for an ambulance
Remember to always be safe when dealing with fireworks or bonfires, follow the Fireworks Code and wherever possible attend organised displays rather than attempting your own. More information can be found by downloading this guide produced by the government.