Essential Tips for Dealing with Injuries on Bonfire Night
Would you know what to do if someone was injured by a stray firework? Or if they were burned by a sparkler? What if they were struggling to breathe from smoke inhalation? These are some of the most common reasons why over 1000 people attend A&E in the days surrounding the 5th of November each year.
Nearly half of those injured are children and those aged 12-15 are most likely to incur injuries to their hands, eyes and face. Home fireworks displays and garden bonfires typically have a higher risk of injury than attending an organised display.
Some fireworks launch at speeds of 150mph and they can cause serious damage to people and property if they misfire or aren’t handled carefully following the Fireworks Code. Firework injuries can cause hearing loss, blindness, third degree burns, permanent scarring and life-threatening damage to organs from a direct impact.
Equally, sparklers should be handled with care. If three or more sparklers burn together, they create a heat equivalent 15 times hotter than boiling water, hotter than the heat from a blowtorch used to weld metal. Even a slight touch from a lit sparkler can cause a blister or burn.
Knowing basic first aid is essential to have the ability to remain calm and have the knowledge to assist anyone who is injured. Having first aid supplies such as tissues, bandages, clean water and a mobile phone are tools you can carry almost anywhere. In addition, attending fire safety and first aid courses increases your skills and ability to respond to injuries and emergencies should they arise.
Another source of injury on Bonfire Night is the bonfire itself. Bonfires feed our fascination with fire and carry on the tradition of burning effigies of Guy Fawkes as we celebrate his failed attempt to destroy the Houses of Parliament during the reign of King James I.
Piles of dry wood, pallets, cardboard and sticks burning at temperatures over 1000oC can be a serious hazard. We like to get close to the heat and watch the flames, however bonfires can be dangerous for both humans and animals. There is a risk of burn injuries from a bonfire spitting hot debris, sometimes several metres into the crowd.
Getting too close to a bonfire can also be dehydrating and cause exhaustion from the heat. Smoke inhalation can cause breathing problems and long-term exposure to smoke and fumes can be fatal. If you suspect someone is suffering, guide them away from the fire and help loosen any tight clothing around their neck, such as a shirt collar or scarf, to allow them to breathe normally.
Fire safety and first aid doesn’t just apply to Bonfire Night. In many everyday situations it’s essential to be ready to call for help and to know how and when to call 999 or 112 for an ambulance. Often there will be off-duty doctors and nurses attending events, but it is essential for everyone to have basic skills to be able to help in an emergency.
Essential 6 provide fire safety courses and first aid training for individuals and companies. For more information please call 0845 272 3558.