Fireworks First Aid – How to Stay Safe!

Date Published: 29th Oct 2019

Fireworks First Aid – how to stay safe on bonfire night……..

Very soon the night sky will be full of fireworks, but the dangers of fireworks are becoming more and more apparent. Every year we see in the news, details of serious firework related accidents involving adults, children and animals.

If you’re organising a fireworks display, however big or small, you need to ensure that you have a handy first aid kit close by – just in case an accident occurs.

One of the most common injuries with fireworks is burns. They can be very painful and can be potentially life-changing.

  • It is predicted that each year, 500 children and their families will join the growing number of people who will remember bonfire night for the wrong reason. They will have been injured as a result of an accident with fireworks.
  • Most injuries are to the eyes, head or hands, so children may have visible scars for life.
  • Most injuries occur at private or family displays.
  • Rocket, air bomb and sparkler incidents are the most common.
  • Over 550 children under 16 are taken to A&E in the four weeks surrounding bonfire night alone.
  • Many more boys than girls are injured by fireworks, especially boys aged 12-15 years

A sparkler can reach a temperature of up to 2,000 degrees Celsius – 20 times the boiling point of water. Never give sparklers to children under 5. They are too young to understand why they might be dangerous.

Older children should be supervised at all times. Make sure they wear gloves and hold the sparkler at arms-length. Teach them not to wave the sparkler near anyone or run while holding them.

Understanding how to treat burns while waiting for an ambulance can prevent infection and minimise the severity of injuries.

How to treat Burns and Scalds:

Burns and scalds are damage to the skin caused by heat. A burn is usually caused by dry heat, like fire, a hot iron, or the sun. A scald is caused by wet heat, like steam or a hot cup of tea.

You need to be extra careful when treating burns. The longer the burning goes on, the more severe the injury will be, and the longer it may take to heal. You need to cool the burn as soon as possible.

If someone has a severe burn or scald, they are also likely to suffer from shock, because of fluid loss, so they will need urgent hospital treatment (shock is a life-threatening condition, not to be confused with emotional shock).

What you need to do:

Stop the burning getting any worse, by moving the casualty or injured person away from the source of heat.

Start cooling the burn or scald as quickly as possible. Hold it under cool running water for at least ten to twenty minutes or until the pain feels better. Never use ice, iced water, or any creams or greasy substances such as butter.

It may mean removing the person from the area, dousing flames with water, or smothering flames with a blanket. Do not put yourself at risk of getting burnt as well.

Assess how bad the burn is. It is serious if:

  • the burn is deep or larger than the size of the casualty’s hand
  • the burn is on the face, hands, arms, legs, feet, or genitals
  • the burn is of any size and causes white or charred skin
  • the burn is a chemical or electrical burn

If it is serious, call 999 for emergency medical help:

  • Remove any jewellery or clothing near the burn (unless it is stuck to it).
  • When the burn is cooled, cover the area loosely with kitchen cling film (lengthways over the burn not around the limb) or another clean, non-fluffy material, like a clean plastic bag. This will protect it from infection.
  • Keep the person warm, use a blanket or layers of clothing. Keeping them warm will prevent hypothermia where a person’s body temperature drops below 35C. This is a risk if you are cooling a large burnt area, particularly in young children and elderly people.
  • Monitor the person and if necessary, treat them for shock.

If you are unsure if the burn is serious then tell the person to see a healthcare professional.


Shock (not to be confused with emotional shock) is a life-threatening condition, which happens when the body isn’t getting enough flow of blood. This means that the cells of the body don’t get enough oxygen to enable them to work properly, which can lead to damage of the vital organs like the brain and the heart.

Remember, fear and pain can make shock worse by increasing the body’s demand for oxygen, so try to reassure and calm the person.

What to look for:

  • pale skin which may be cold and clammy
  • they may be weak and dizzy
  • fast, shallow breathing
  • a fast, weak pulse
  • yawning or sighing
  • confusion
  • loss of responsiveness (in extreme cases)

What you need to do:

If the casualty is showing signs of shock:

  • Lay them down flat on their back and raise and support their legs, to increase the flow of blood to their head.
  • Call 999 for medical help and say you think they are in shock.
  • Loosen any tight clothing around the neck, chest and waist to make sure it doesn’t constrict their blood flow
  • Reassure them to keep them calm and warm. While waiting for help to arrive cover them with a coat or blanket.
  • Keep checking their breathing and whether they can respond to you.
  • If they become unresponsive at any point, open their airway, check their breathing, and prepare to treat someone who has become unresponsive.
  • Understanding the dangers of fireworks can prevent injuries and in some cases save lives.

Watching fireworks is fun but accidents can be devastating. Always remember to take the correct safety precautions and stay safe around fireworks by following the Firework Code.



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