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Keep Your Fall Bonfires Injury-free


November 01, 2018

As Autumn nears its close and you’re enjoying bonfires before winter hits, it’s important to make sure you’re going about it safely. The best way to stay safe is to avoid injury altogether, but when accidents happen, it’s important to know what to do.

Bonfire safety

Use these tips to stay safe while enjoying a fire on autumn nights. Meredith says to:

  • Check with your local fire department to understand the outdoor burn laws in your area.
  • Avoid bonfires on windy, dry days.
  • Before building a fire, clear away dry leaves and sticks, and overhanging branches and shrubs.
  • Build at least 25 feet away from anything that can burn.
  • Watch children and pets while the fire is burning. Never let them too close to the fire.
  • Keep the fire small and controllable.
  • Never use gasoline or other flammable, combustible liquids.
  • Always have a hose, bucket of water, or shovel with dirt or sand to put out the fire.
  • Check that the fire is out completely before leaving the site. Pour cool water over the fire to ensure the embers are cooled completely. Try to cover the fire pit with sand or dirt to prevent exposure to oxygen.

When accidents happen

Should someone get burned, Meredith says to do the following:

Minor burns

Run cool, not cold, water or place a wet compress over the burn. Remove rings or other tight items from the burned area. Once the burn is completely cooled, apply lotion. Bandage the burn with a sterile, gauze bandage, wrapping it loosely. Do not break blisters. An over-the-counter pain reliever can be used if needed.

Major Burns

Call 911, and while you wait for help, protect the burned person from further harm and make sure they are breathing. Remove jewelry, belts, and other restrictive items. Cover the burn using a cool, moist bandage or dry, clean cloth. Don’t immerse large burns in water. Elevate the burned area, and watch for signs of shock.

Assessing the burn

Understanding the severity of a burn is important to treat it properly.

First-degree burns affect the epidermis, or outer layer of the skin. The burn site is red, painful, and dry with no blisters.

Second-degree burns involve the epidermis and part of the dermis layer of skin. The burn site appears red, blistered, and may be swollen or painful.

Third-degree burns destroy the epidermis and dermis. They may destroy underlying bones, muscles, and tendons. The site appears white or charred.

Go to your nearest emergency department for second- or third-degree burns greater than ten percent of the total body surface area, or significant burns involving the face, feet, hands, genitalia, or airway.

 

KNOW WHERE TO GO

Find your nearest emergency center and view the average wait times.