The Fourth of July is just around the corner, but OSF Healthcare Saint Anthony Medical Center is already seeing patients coming in for burn injuries that resulted from misuse of fire and flammable liquids—three alone since Memorial Day weekend.
“These are injuries that we see and they are all preventable," says Dr. Stathis Poulakidas, Burn Center Medical Director at OSF HealthCare Saint Anthony Medical Center. "Make sure you exercise caution around flammable things that can cause harm to you or your family members. A little ounce of prevention does go a long way to keep everyone safe and out of the hospital and from injuries."
When lighting a bonfire or grill, fire officials say don’t use things like gasoline to start fires.
“Gasoline is okay for powering your car or your lawn mower, but never use it to light a bonfire or your grill,” said Derek Bergsten, Chief of the Rockford Fire Department. “Store gasoline in a well-ventilated area and away from ignition sources. Be just as cautious with kerosene and propane.”
While most fireworks are illegal in the state of Illinois, that doesn’t mean injuries aren’t happening.
“About a quarter of all ER visits are due to legal fireworks in the state of Illinois,” said Dr. Poulakidas. “Sparklers, for instance, can be relatively dangerous if used inappropriately: given to children who are too young to handle them, or lit in a way that they shouldn’t be. Never light a firework in your hand, obviously that can explode unexpectedly, quickly and you can get blast injuries to the hand or burn injuries to the hand, face or other areas of your body, especially if your clothes, which are flammable, catch on fire.”
When using sparklers or other legal fireworks to always have a hose or bucket of water nearby, do so in a wide, open area, and to make sure young children are kept at a safe distance. Lastly, while the holidays can be a cause for celebration, experts recommend celebrating responsibly, especially if fire is involved.
"Intoxication does play a significant role in poor decision making,” said Dr. Poulakidas. “So, avoiding that at all costs is probably your best opportunity for a good chance of preventing injuries. That being said, using gasoline and other accelerants to light your fires, trash, bonfires, etcetera really isn't safe and I would actually try disposing of it appropriately - or lighting your fire more safely with different types of materials that are out there commercially."