BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — The effects of fireworks can be more than skin deep. Local burn units expect a surge in patients over the Fourth of July weekend, plus a surge in calls about mental health.
Fireworks can be dazzling, but also dangerous. Doctors at the Grossman Burn Center at Memorial Hospital says they see five times as many patients as usual around the Fourth of July.
“We will see dozens of burn injuries,” said Darci Combs, Program Coordinator for the Grossman Burn Center. “Most common injuries are second or third-degree burns to the face, hands and the feet.”
This comes after two teenagers each lost a hand during illegal fireworks explosions last year.
“Burn injuries are traumatic, they are painful, and they can be life-changing,” said Combs. “Prevention is key.”
Combs urges you to use safe-and-sane fireworks if you’re celebrating at home, and take extra care around barbecues and grills. Experts say you should learn basic first aid for burns smaller than the palm of your hand.
“Cool the burn for three to five minutes with cool water,” said Combs. “No direct ice, no home remedies.”
If symptoms get worse after that or if the burn is bigger than your palm you should to go a hospital. But that’s not all.
“The Fourth of July can increase feelings of anxiety, sadness and fear for those who have been impacted by trauma like PTSD, or have issues with loud noises,” said Mitchall Patel, Public Information Officer for Kern County Behavioral Health and Recovery Services.
Fortunately that’s not the case for local Marine Corps veteran Richard Knight, who earned a Bronze Star for his service in the Vietnam War.
“When I see fireworks, it rises my patriotism,” said Knight. “It makes me emotionally proud to be an American.”
While he loves the fireworks, he’ll never forget certain other loud noises.
“Mortars screaming in,” said Knight. “The sounds were more horrific than any flashes of light.”
If you’re experiencing a mental health crisis, you can call the Kern Behavioral Health Crisis Hotline at 1-800-991-5272.