Posted on 06-30-2014
Overall, more than 9,000 fireworks injuries happen each year on average in the United States, with roughly 1 in 8 fireworks injuries harming the eyes, according to the most recent fireworks injury report from the U.S. Consumer Produce Safety Commission. Common fireworks eye injuries include burns, lacerations, abrasions, retinal detachment, optic nerve damage and ruptured eyeballs.
Those injured are not necessarily handling the explosives themselves. In fact, nearly half of people injured by fireworks are bystanders. Children are frequent victims: 30 percent who sustained a fireworks injuries near the Fourth of July holiday are age 15 and under, according to the commission report.
"Even sparklers can burn more than 1,000 degrees hotter than the boiling point of water," said Philip R. Rizzuto, M.D., ophthalmologist and communications secretary for the American Academy of Ophthalmology. "So, fireworks should not be thought of as toys, but devices that can cause third-degree burns. This is why people must be vigilant and take precautions to avoid the risk of serious eye injury."
Fireworks Safety Tips
The Academy advises that the best way to avoid a potentially blinding fireworks injury is by attending a professional public fireworks show rather than purchasing fireworks for home use.
For those who attend professional fireworks displays and/or live in communities surrounding the shows:
- Respect safety barriers at fireworks shows and view fireworks from at least 500 feet away.
- Do not touch unexploded fireworks; instead, immediately contact local fire or police departments to help.
For those who decide to purchase consumer fireworks because they live in states where they are legal, the Academy recommends the following safety tips to prevent eye injuries:
- Never let children play with fireworks of any type, even sparklers.
- Adults handling fireworks should always wear protective eyewear that meets the parameters set by the American National Standards Institute and ensure that all bystanders are also wearing eye protection.
- Leave the lighting of professional-grade fireworks to trained pyrotechnicians.
What to do for a fireworks eye injury
If an eye injury from fireworks occurs, remember:
- Seek medical attention immediately.
- Do not rub your eyes.
- Do not rinse your eyes.
- Do not apply pressure.
- Do not remove any objects that are stuck in the eye.
- Do not apply ointments or take any blood-thinning pain medications such as aspirin or ibuprofen.