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Airbag Injury

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Aug 31, 2022.

What do I need to know about an airbag injury?

Airbags must inflate quickly to be effective in an accident. The speed and force of the airbag can cause eye injuries, burns, irritated skin, and open wounds when it inflates.

How do I care for an airbag injury?

  • Keep wounds covered with a clean, dry bandage as directed. You may be told to apply antibacterial ointment to your wound to prevent infection. You may need stitches. Care for your stitches as directed.
  • Use ice packs as directed to treat swelling around your eyes.
  • Use cool cloths to soothe red, irritated, or burned skin.

What can I do to prevent an airbag injury?

  • Make sure everyone wears a seatbelt.
  • Do not allow children younger than 13 years to sit in the front seat. Children who are 8 years or younger should ride in a properly fitting car seat or booster seat.
  • Do not place a rear-facing infant seat in the front of a vehicle. Babies should ride in a rear-facing infant seat in the back of a vehicle until they are 1 year old and weigh 20 pounds.
  • Do not place the lap belt over your stomach. The lap belt should fit snugly over your hips. This is very important if you are pregnant. Never place a shoulder belt under your arm or behind your back.
  • Sit at least 10 inches away from the steering wheel when you drive. Recline the seat or tilt the steering wheel down.
  • Drive with your hands on each side of the steering wheel. Do not drive with your hands on top of the steering wheel.
  • Sit as far back from the dashboard as you can if you are a passenger.

When should I seek immediate care?

  • You have new or increased chest pain.
  • You have a bad headache and feel sleepy or confused.
  • Your pain gets worse, even with medicine.
  • Your wounds become red, painful, and tender. They may be hot or swollen.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • You have a new cough or you are wheezing.
  • You have increased tears, redness, or pain in your eyes.
  • You hear ringing or buzzing, or you lose your hearing.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.