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Celebrate Independence Day Safely, Especially during COVID-19

Fireworks Injuries Drastically Increase in Weeks Surrounding July 4

Each year, it is important for individuals and families to exercise caution when celebrating Independence Day, with the intent of avoiding injuries that are commonly related to the holiday. This year, however, increased attention to safety precautions is important to avoid illness related to novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

"Independence Day is one of the highlights of the summer, a weekend to enjoy cookouts with family, time on the water or fireworks celebrations. We know that central Georgians will plan to celebrate this year, but do ask that people exercise the same precautions that they've exercised this spring to minimize their risk of contracting COVID-19," said John Wood, MD, Emergency Center Director for The Medical Center, Navicent Health and Atrium Health Navicent Beverly Knight Olson Children's Hospital.

Atrium Health Navicent reminds those in the communities we serve to continue to take measures to protect themselves from COVID-19.

Wash your hands often with hot water and soap.

Use hand sanitizer if hand washing is not an option.

Avoid close contact with others by practicing social distancing. Avoid mass gatherings and maintain approximately six feet of personal space when in public.

Wear a mask when in public. This not only protects you but is a common courtesy to protect others.

Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects people frequently touch.

In addition, Atrium Health Navicent reminds central Georgians to exercise caution if they choose to handle fireworks. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, an estimated 180 people per day will visit emergency rooms across the U.S. in the month surrounding Independence Day. The most common injuries include burns to the hands and fingers, followed by injuries that involve the head, face, eyes and ears.

Fireworks, including sparklers and flares, can cause serious burns as well as blast injuries that can permanently impair vision and hearing.

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, if an eye injury from fireworks occurs:

Seek medical attention immediately

Do not rub or rinse the eye

Do not apply pressure or ointment to the eye

Do not remove objects from the eye

Do not take aspirin or ibuprofen, which are blood-thinning pain medications

"Many of the initial reactions a person may have when an fireworks-related eye injury occurs can do more harm than good. It is important to remain calm and seek professional help, like that offered at Atrium Health Navicent's emergency centers," said Monali Sakhalkar, M.D., ophthalmologist with Ophthalmology, Atrium Health Navicent.

Tips to protect yourself and your children from fireworks injuries include the following:

Handle and use fireworks in strict accordance with the manufacturer's instructions and all warning labels.

Light fireworks on smooth, flat surfaces, and aim them away from buildings, dry leaves, flammable materials and spectators.

Do not try to relight fireworks that malfunction.

Do not modify fireworks or use homemade fireworks.

Light fireworks one at a time, then quickly move back.

Do not shoot fireworks from a metal or glass container.

Keep a phone and a bucket of water or a fire extinguisher handy and know first aid for burns.

As with any activity involving hazardous equipment, adults should actively supervise all children when they are near fireworks.

If an accident or injury occurs, seek appropriate medical treatment. For emergency situations, call 911 or seek care at the nearest emergency center. Atrium Health Navicent offers emergency care at the following locations:

Atrium Health Navicent Beverly Knight Olson Children's Hospital (888 Pine Street, Macon)

The Medical Center, Navicent Health (777 Pine Street, Macon)

The Medical Center of Peach County, Atrium Health Navicent (1960 Hwy 247 Connector, Byron)

Atrium Health Navicent Baldwin (821 North Cobb Street, Milledgeville)

Monroe County Hospital, Atrium Health Navicent Partner (88 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, Forsyth)

Putnam General Hospital, Atrium Health Navicent Partner (101 Greensboro Rd., Eatonton)

For non-life threatening injuries, visit your nearest urgent care provider. Atrium Health Navicent provides virtual care as well as in person care at three urgent care in Macon-Bibb County. Visit to check in to a virtual appointment or check in at an urgent care center before you arrive.

About Atrium Health Navicent

Atrium Health Navicent, the leading provider of healthcare in central and south Georgia, is committed to its mission of elevating health and wellbeing through compassionate care. Providing more than 1,000 beds and offering care in 53 specialties at more than 50 facilities throughout the region, Atrium Health Navicent provides care for healthcare consumers' through an academic medical center; community, pediatric and rehabilitation hospitals; urgent care centers; physician practices; diagnostic centers; home health; hospice and palliative care; and a life plan community. Atrium Health Navicent is dedicated enhancing health and wellness for individuals throughout the region through nationally-recognized quality care, community health initiatives and collaborative partnerships. For more information, please visit