Fireworks are fun, but it’s more fun if you can keep all your body parts intact. The 4th of July and fireworks go together like, well, the 4th of July and fireworks. Unfortunately, there are more than 9,000 fireworks-related injuries every year, according to the American Academy of Opthalmology (AAO). About 45 percent of those involve children age 15 or under, and eyes are among the most injured body parts. One in six fireworks-related eye injuries results in permanent vision loss or blindness.
On the 4th of July, children are most likely to play with sparklers, but the innocent-looking sparkler can be very dangerous. Sparklers can easily ignite clothing and generally burn at 1,200-2,000 degrees Fahrenheit — hot enough to cause third-degree burns to the skin.
Out-of-control bottle rockets are responsible for many serious eye injuries, including corneal abrasions, traumatic cataract, retinal detachment, optic nerve damage, and rupture of the eyeball – all of which can lead to potential blindness.
The AAO offers steps to prevent fireworks-related eye injuries:
- Don’t handle fireworks unless you and all bystanders are wearing protective eyewear.
- Don’t let young children play with fireworks. Older children should wear protective eyewear and be closely supervised by an adult.
- Make sure there are no flammable materials in the area.
- View fireworks from at least 500 feet away.
A study conducted by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) found that in 2011, 65 percent of all fireworks injuries happened during the 30 days surrounding Independence Day. In addition to the eyes, those injuries included burns to the hands, head, face, and ears. Sparklers, firecrackers, and aerial devices were cited most often.
Losing a child, an eye or a home is a tragic price to pay for backyard fireworks displays. Professional fireworks shows are safer, cheaper and more spectacular.
Have a happy and a safe Independence Day celebration.