Guy Fawkes Safety: Fireworks are dazzling, but dangerous
Guy Fawkes is just around the corner and although not a South African holiday, is usually celebrated with an array of fireworks.
Despite the dangers of fireworks, few people understand the associated risks – devastating injuries and burns, fires and even death.
Unfortunately around this time, Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital sees an increase in fireworks-related injuries in children – devastating eye injuries, facial injuries and hand injuries - most of which are preventable.
When excitement is high it is often easy to forget the simple safety precautions that make the fireworks experience safe and fun, therefore we urge the public to remember these safety tips to keep safe this Guy Fawkes:
• Children are more likely to get hurt by fireworks than adults, therefore keep a close eye on children at events where fireworks are used. Don’t allow them to pick up pieces of fireworks after an event - some may still be ignited and can explode at any time.
• Keep children and other observers at a safe distance, behind a protective barrier and keep away from anything that could catch fire. Babies and children can wriggle in your arms and reach out unexpectedly.
• Never allow children to touch or handle matches, lighters or fireworks (including sparklers). Consider safer alternatives such as glow sticks, confetti poppers or streamers.
• Keep fireworks out of reach of children - even sparklers remain extremely hot and burn hot enough to cause third-degree burns.
• Only attend the designated areas identified by the City of Cape Town for the discharge of fireworks
• Avoid dressing children in loose or flowing clothes as they may catch fire.
• The best treatment is prevention and the most effective way to avoid fireworks-related injuries is not to use fireworks at all.
• Should a burn injury occur, cool the burn by keeping the burnt body part under cold running tap water for 20 minutes to stop the burning process.
• Should anyone sustain a burn injury involving flames, the victim should stop, drop and roll to put out the flames.
• In the event of a firework injury affecting the eyes, seek immediate medical attention. Even for seemingly mild injuries, quick action can minimise the risk of long-term damage. Do not rub or rinse the injured eye or apply ointment as it could increase the damage.
Fireworks are meant to be enjoyed, but you’ll enjoy them much more knowing you and your family are safe on Guy Fawkes.
• Burn injuries happen in seconds, but can change a person’s life forever. It is one of the most common and devastating forms of trauma and have the potential to cause death, lifelong scarring, disfigurement and dysfunction
• The Burns Unit at Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital is the only specialised paediatric Burns Unit within a dedicated children’s hospital in Africa
• Every year the hospital treats approximately 3 500 children for burns (which includes children who are treated in the Burns Outpatient Clinic); approximately 1 300 of these cases are severe burns
• Children under 6 are more at risk with 85% of burns patients treated being younger than 6 and 50% are children under 2
• Ninety-eight percent of children treated for burns are from disadvantaged communities
• Children’s skin is thinner than adults' and their skin burns at lower temperatures more deeply, making them susceptible to harsher burns with long-term effects
• In South Africa, burns is the third most common cause of accidental deaths amongst children under 14 years, exceeded only by motor vehicle accidents and drowning
• Nearly 230 children die from burns in South Africa every year