By Kate Ranta on Jul 4, 2018 @ 10:30 AM
Fourth of July and New Year’s Eve are great opportunities to spend time with family and friends. From throwing a backyard BBQ to enjoying a day off work, there’s not much more you could ask for. However, there’s something special about these holidays— you can't celebrate them without bright and dazzling fireworks. Fireworks are practically tradition, but it’s important to be cautious when near them or handling them.
You may be thinking to yourself, “There can’t possibly be that many fireworks-related injuries.” According to an American Academy of Ophthalmology infographic, over 9,000 fireworks injuries happen on a yearly basis. The craziest thing is that nearly half of those injured were bystanders! A visit to the emergency room definitely puts a damper on the festivities.
“Okay, that’s a lot of fireworks-related injuries, but there can’t possibly be that many fireworks-related eye injuries.” You might be surprised to know that according to a recent Consumer Product Safety Commission report, 14 percent of fireworks injuries in 2017 were eye injuries! The typical eye injuries from fireworks are burns, scratches on the cornea, detached retinas, and even ruptured eyeballs! As you can imagine, these are potentially blinding injuries, so it's incredibly important that you protect your eyes near fireworks.
In an effort to spread firework safety awareness, American Academy of Ophthalmology polled 2,034 adults regarding fireworks. Some of their findings include:
- 77% plan to watch and 20% plan to do their own fireworks on Fourth of July.
- 33% knew someone injured by fireworks or have been injured themselves.
- 54% believe it’s acceptable for kids ages 5-10 to play with sparklers/fireworks.
- Only 10% wear eye protection when using fireworks.
Including fireworks with festivities is fun when used properly. We've put together a list of safety precautions:
- Wear eye protection.
- Remove your contact lenses. If you sustain an eye injury, contacts could make the injury more severe.
- Keep a water source nearby (such as a water hose or full bucket) in case of a fire.
- Always supervise children around fireworks.
- Light one firework at a time, and quickly move once it's lit.
- Never handle lit fireworks. Place them on the ground or in a holder.
- Don't attempt to re-light fireworks that didn't work properly. Soak them in water and throw them away.
- As a bystander you should stand a minimum of 500 feet away from the lighting of the fireworks.
- Keep pets inside. The loud noises can startle them and cause them to run away looking for safety.
If you or someone you know gets an eye injury from fireworks, seek medical assistance immediately and keep the following in mind:
- Don't rub the affected eye.
- Don't rinse your eye.
- Don’t apply pressure.
- Don’t apply any ointments.
- If there’s a piece of debris in your eye, don't remove it. Put a loose bandage over your eye and go straight to the emergency room.
- Don't take any blood-thinning medications such as aspirin or ibuprofen.
Always handle fireworks safely and don’t celebrate the holidays in a hospital waiting room. Though we tend to take our sight for granted, it’s important to always keep vision health in mind. To help maintain healthy vision all year long, find out which vitamins and foods are good for your eyes. (Spoiler alert: it’s not just carrots!)
Have a safe and wonderful time!