Healthline: 4th of July safety

A freeze-frame of a roman candle fired toward a camera (Source: WAFB)
A freeze-frame of a roman candle fired toward a camera (Source: WAFB)
A widely-shared Facebook post about an infection reportedly contracted off the coast of Grand Isle. It was later confirmed not to be 'flesh-eating' (Source: Facebook)
A widely-shared Facebook post about an infection reportedly contracted off the coast of Grand Isle. It was later confirmed not to be 'flesh-eating' (Source: Facebook)
Dr. Kevin DiBenedetto, medical director of Lake After Hours Urgent Care clinics (Source: WAFB)
Dr. Kevin DiBenedetto, medical director of Lake After Hours Urgent Care clinics (Source: WAFB)
A friendly reminder to use your brain when lighting fireworks during the 4th of July weekend. There were around 10,000 firework-related injuries last year in the United States, and nearly three-quarters of them happened to men. It just takes a split second to do some serious damage.
"Typically they're mostly burns and explosion type injuries, and some eye injuries. Most of the time it's just people being careless and not thinking," said Dr. Kevin DiBenedetto, medical director of Lake After Hours Urgent Care clinics.
He sees it every year. Folks showing up with first and second-degree burns after an avoidable accident with fireworks. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the majority of injuries are to hands and fingers. Damage to the head and eyes is close behind.
"Second-degree would be where you get blisters, it blanches. Blanching meaning it’s red, you press it, it turns white, then the red comes back. Rarely do we see a third-degree burn from a firework," DiBenedetto explained.
Never use an open-flame cigarette lighter to ignite fireworks. Instead try "punks," the little sticks of compressed sawdust that burn slowly. They’re free, or very cheap, at most fireworks stands. Blue-flame butane torch lighters also work better than the flicker of a traditional lighter.
The CPSC also advises:
  • Avoid buying fireworks that are packaged in brown paper because this is often a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays and that they could pose a danger to consumers.
  • Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.
  • Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully.
  • Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
  • Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.
  • Light fireworks one at a time, then move back quickly.
  • Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.
  • After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding it to prevent a trash fire.
Would you let your child hold a blow torch? Many parents don’t realize sparklers can heat up to the same temperature, some 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Sparklers are responsible for about 20 percent of all fireworks injuries.

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - 'FLESH-EATING' BACTERIA

The other concern making headlines ahead of Independence Day is the threat of 'flesh-eating' bacteria in warm seawater. One widely-circulated Facebook post told the story of a man who allegedly was infected by the bacteria while in the waters off Grand Isle. It turns out that case was not necrotizing fasciitis, the technical name for the bacterial infection that kills the body’s soft tissue. In reality, it’s extremely rare.
"People that are immunocompromised, particularly those with liver disease, if they have an open wound shouldn't go in seawater, and they shouldn't be eating raw oysters," DiBenedetto said. "But most normal, healthy people shouldn't have anything to worry about."
He added that vibriosis and other bacterial infections can come from warm seawater, so any open cut is a good reason to stay on dry land.
"That cut would typically get the first signs, where it would blister up, or get some ulcerations and some redness around it and progress pretty rapidly, as opposed to somebody that eats raw oysters. They may start off with the vomiting, diarrhea, fever and then rapidly progress to septic shock," DiBenedetto said.
Other common injuries over the holiday weekend will come from sun exposure, grill fires and foodborne illness from foods left outside. So stay hydrated, apply sunscreen often, and enjoy the great outdoors responsibly.
Five Lake After Hours Urgent Care clinics will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Independence Day: Perkins Road, Drusilla Lane, Hammond, Zachary and Kids locations.

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