Fireworks first aid advice

Fireworks first aid - how to stay safe on bonfire night

With bonfire night in full swing, we have issued advice on how to treat some of the more common injuries which occur at this time of year.

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.

Burns and scalds


Eye injuries

Burns and scalds

Burns and ScaldsBurns 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. So you need to cool the burn as soon as possible.

If someone has a severe burn or scald they are 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 to look for

If you think someone has a burn or scald, there are five key things to look for:

  • 1. Red skin
  • 2. Swelling
  • 3. Blisters (may form on the skin later on. If there are blisters, do not burst them).
  • 4. The skin may peel
  • 5. The skin may be white or scorched.

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 minutes or until the pain feels better. (Don’t use ice, creams or gels – they can damage tissues and increase the risk of infection).

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

  • • a child that has received a burn larger than the size of the casualty's hand
  • • on the face, hands or feet, or
  • • a deep burn

If it is serious, call 999 or 112 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.

- 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.

Shock can be caused by anything that reduces the flow of blood, including:

  • • severe internal or external bleeding
  • • heart problems, such as a heart attack, or heart failure
  • • loss of body fluids, from dehydration, diarrhoea, vomiting or burns
  • • severe allergic reactions and severe infection
  • • spinal cord injury

If someone has any of the conditions above, which can reduce the circulation or blood flow, they could develop shock, so you may need to treat them for this condition as well. 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

If you think somebody could be suffering from shock, there are seven key things to look for:Shock

  • 1. They may have pale skin which may be cold and clammy
  • 2. They may be weak and dizzy
  • 3. They may have fast, shallow breathing
  • 4. A fast, weak pulse
  • 5. Yawning or sighing
  • 6. Confusion
  • 7. Loss of responsiveness (in extreme cases)

What you need to do

If they are 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 or 112 for medical help and say you think they are in shock, and explain what you think caused it (such as bleeding or a broken bone).
  • • 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.


Eye injuries

Common types of eye injury include:

  • • Foreign objects getting stuck in the eye either:
  • - On the surface of the eye, like an eyelash or some grit,
  • - Or embedded into the eyeball, like wood, metal or glass;
  • • Cuts or grazes, from sharp objects like glass or metal;
  • • Or a severe blow to the eye, from direct trauma, like a hard object, e.g. a ball or a fist.

All eye injuries are potentially serious.

Foreign objects which lie on the surface of the eye can easily be rinsed out. Sharp fragments like metal or glass may cut or penetrate the eye and become embedded. If this is the case, the person should not attempt to remove the object but cover the eye and seek specialist help as soon as possible.

Grazes to the surface of the eye, especially to the part of the eye called the cornea (the surface covering the pupil, lens and the coloured part of the eye) can lead to scarring or infection, which could permanently damage a person’s vision.

Direct blows to the eye can lead to bleeding within or behind the eye which again can lead to visual loss.

What to look for:

The five key things to look for are:

  • 1. Pain or discomfort in the eye or eyelid
  • 2. Screwed up eyelids and watering from the eye
  • 3. A visible wound or a bloodshot appearance
  • 4. Blurred; partial or total loss of vision
  • 5. Blood or a clear fluid leaking from a wound in the eye

If you notice, or someone complains of, any of these symptoms you need to take action to help to prevent further damage to the eye.

What you need to do:

If you think the person might have something in their eye:

- Advise the casualty not to rub their eye as this could make it worse.

- Ask them to sit down facing a light.

- Stand behind them and gently open their eyelids with your thumbs and ask them to look right, left, up and down as you look closely at the eye.

- If you can see something in there, ask them to tip their head backwards and turned so the affected eye was facing down, and then wash it out by gently pouring clean water into the inner corner of the affected eye.

- If this doesn’t work and the object is still on the surface of the eye, you could try to remove it with a moist piece of gauze or the corner of a clean handkerchief or tissue. If the object isn’t easy to remove or the eye is very painful, seek medical advice.

- If you think their eye may be bruised or cut:

- Advise them to lie on their back. Hold their head to keep it as still as possible.

- Tell them to try to keep both eyes still, as moving their ‘good’ eye will also move the ‘bad’ eye, which could make it worse.

- Give them a sterile dressing, or a clean non-fluffy pad to hold over their ‘bad’ eye. If it will be a while before you can get medical help, you can hold the pad in place with a light bandage. Then take or send them to hospital.