July 4 is a time for celebration, whether it’s a family get together in the backyard or a trip out of town for some R and R. With all the fun going on, we sometimes forget about the dangers July 4th merrymaking can bring. Fireworks, swimming pools and hot temperatures can all put a damper on your good times if you’re not careful. Doctors often see a surge in patients seeking treatment for injuries and illnesses over the July 4th holiday.
• In the month around the July 4th holiday, 65 percent of people on average seek medical treatment every day with fireworks-related injuries
• Most fireworks injuries are caused by banned, illegal or homemade devices
• Drowning is the No. 1 cause of death among children ages 1-5 outside of congenital birth defects.
• Children up to four years of age, people 65 years of age and older and people who are on certain medications are at greatest risk of heat-related illnesses
(Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, NBC News, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission)
At fault with fireworks
Fireworks are part of any great July 4th celebration, but mishandling fireworks or using illegal fireworks can lead to problems that will land you in the doctor’s office.
Doctors see a lot of hand, fingers and eye injuries caused by fireworks each year, and say that the safest way to enjoy them is at a professional display.
If you set up your own legal display, be sure to have a fire extinguisher or a hose connected to a water source nearby to put out fires. Keep children away from fireworks at all times. According to the CPSC, children under age 5 were most likely to be injured by fireworks.
• Sparklers and rockets accounted for more than 40 percent of all fireworks injuries.
• Consumers sometimes feel comfortable handing children fireworks devices perceived to be less powerful, such as sparklers and bottle rockets, leading to injuries.
Swimming pools –– either in a friend’s backyard or the public variety –– can cause major medical problems. Swimmers with intestinal illnesses can release Cryptosporidium bacteria into the water, and anyone who gets water in their mouth is also at risk for the bacteria.
According to the CDC, every day about 10 people die from unintentional drowning, and nearly 80 percent of drowning victims are male. There have also been recent reports of secondary and dry drowning incidents, where problems happen long after swimming or contact with water.
• Dry drowning: Water is inhaled while swimming, creating irritation in the airway. The irritation can cause muscle spasms, leading to impaired breathing.
• Secondary drowning: Water is inhaled while swimming and doesn’t clear the lungs. The irritation caused by the water can lead to fluid buildup in the lungs, known as pulmonary edema. The drowning actually occurs from the lung fluid, not the water.
Too hot to handle
People suffer heat-related illness when their bodies’ temperature control systems overload and their bodies can no longer cool themselves. Infants and children under age 4, people over 65, overweight people, people with certain illnesses and those taking certain medications are most at risk for heat-related illnesses.
• Heat Stroke: Most serious heat-related illness. Body temp can rise to 106 degrees in 10 to 15 minutes, and sweating just isn’t enough to cool down. Without immediate treatment, you can become permanently disabled or die.
• Heat Exhaustion: Milder heat-related illness that develops after several days of exposure to high temps and inadequate replacement of fluids. Most prone to heat exhaustion are the elderly, people with high blood pressure and folks who work or exercise in the heat.