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Wishard Health Services encourages the public to take special precautions this Fourth of July

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Richard M. Fairbanks Burn Center at Wishard Educates Community about Firework Safety Wishard Health Services encourages the public to take special precautions this Fourth of July

Indianapolis, June 30, 2009 — Nearly 10,000 firework-related injuries are treated each year in U.S. hospital emergency departments, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Statistics also show that most firework-related injuries are burns. These burns often result from improper use of sparklers and other legal and illegal fireworks, and they usually involve the hands, face, eyes, arms and legs.

Many of these injuries could be avoided or minimized by following some simple safety measures. The Richard M. Fairbanks Burn Center at Wishard, the only adult burn center that serves central and southern Indiana, hopes to educate the public about proper burn prevention procedures this Fourth of July holiday.

“Burn prevention is an integral part of the education services our burn center provides for the community. Almost 30 to 40 percent of the burns we see are preventable with the appropriate education,” said Dr. Rajiv Sood, medical director of the Richard M. Fairbanks Burn Center at Wishard and associate professor of plastic surgery, department of plastic surgery, Indiana University School of Medicine. “Proper use of fireworks is just one example of how the public can better protect themselves from preventable burns.”

Doctors at the Richard M. Fairbanks Burn Center at Wishard recommend that people leave fireworks to the professionals, but if you choose to use fireworks at your home, it is important to take some special precautions.

Some helpful tips relating to firework safety include:

Never re-light a “dud” firework (wait 15 to 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water)

Never build or experiment with homemade fireworks

Make sure only adults handle fireworks

Give children glow in the dark wands and noise makers instead of sparklers

Read and follow all instructions

Check with local police and fire departments to determine which fireworks can legally be discharged in your area

It is important to note that sparklers are the second highest cause of fireworks injuries. Sparklers can heat up to 1800 degrees Fahrenheit, hot enough to melt gold.

In the unfortunate event that an incident occurs, it is important to respond to the situation immediately. Dr. Sood said if clothing catches on fire, the best way to put out the fire is to “stop, drop and roll.” Once the fire is extinguished, the clothes from the area of the burn should be removed, and any burned skin should be cooled for 5 to 10 minutes. He said the burned area should then be wrapped in a clean, dry dressing or warm blanket. As with any medical emergency, call 911 immediately.

One of only 50 burn centers in the United States verified by the American College of Surgeons and the American Burn Association, the Richard M. Fairbanks Burn Center at Wishard treats more than 350 inpatients and 1,500 outpatients each year. Since 1993, the burn center has seen an increase of approximately 15 percent per year in the number of patients treated. The burn center at Wishard is regarded as one of the finest and most progressive burn centers in the United States, and is located above the Emergency Department and IU/Wishard Level I Trauma Center at Wishard Memorial Hospital.

For more information about firework safety, please call the Richard M. Fairbanks Burn Center at Wishard’s burn prevention hotline at 1-866-339-BURN.

Requests for interviews with physicians at the Richard M. Fairbanks Burn Center at Wishard may be made by calling Todd Harper at (317) 630-7808 or emailing todd.harper@wishard.edu.

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