Prevent Eye Injuries from Fireworks

Every year, fireworks are involved in thousands of injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms. Many of these fireworks-related injuries are eye injuries and at least one-third result in permanent eye damage, partial vision loss or blindness.

Fireworks that emit flames or sparks into the sky, such as roman candles, bottle rockets, firecrackers and even sparklers can pose a serious risk of injury. Data from the U.S. Eye Injury Registry reveals that bystanders are more often injured by fireworks than the operators themselves. Contusions, lacerations and foreign bodies in the eye are the most common eye injuries caused by fireworks.

With the Fourth of July holiday just around the corner, it’s important to take precautions to ensure your celebration doesn’t end with a trip to the emergency room. For a safe holiday, follow these fireworks safety tips:

• The safest option for your celebration is to attend a professional fireworks display, rather than buying your own fireworks.

• If you prefer to purchase your own fireworks, everyone in attendance should wear safety glasses.

• Do not allow children to handle fireworks. Only adults should set off fireworks. Even sparklers burn at 1800 degrees Fahrenheit and can be extremely dangerous.

• Only use fireworks as directed.

• Any viewers should maintain a safe distance from any fireworks display. For example, set fireworks off in the street with viewers watching from the front porch or garage.

If an accident does occur, these six steps can save the victim’s sight:

• Seek immediate medical attention.

• Do not rub the eye. Rubbing may increase bleeding or make the injury worse.

• Do not attempt to rinse out the eye. Doing so can be even more damaging than rubbing the eye.

• Do not apply pressure to the eye itself. Instead, shield the eye with a foam cup and get the injured to the emergency room as soon as possible.

• Do not stop for medicine. Over-the-counter pain relievers will do little to alleviate eye pain. Aspirin and ibuprofen can thin the blood, increasing bleeding. Allow medical professionals to determine if and which medications may be necessary.

• Do not apply ointment. Doing so may make the eye slippery and more difficult for the doctor to examine.

These warnings are not to scare you, but rather to give you the information necessary to allow you to have a safe and fun holiday. Don’t let your Fourth of July celebration be ruined by injuries caused by fireworks. Take all necessary precautions to ensure you and your friends or family remain safe.

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