The Fourth of July is drawing near and barbeque preparations are underway. Fireworks are a traditional part of Independence Day celebrations, but they can also be dangerous.
Unfortunately, children and teens are too often hurt by fireworks. So, before the celebration begins, here are EyeSmart fireworks safety tips from the Massachusetts Society of Eye Physicians and Surgeons.
Of the 9,000 fireworks-related injuries each year, 21 percent are eye injuries and more than half of the victims are young children or teenagers. For example:
- A 6-year-old child’s eye was severely injured after he lit an M-80 firework that he found in his home. He called 911 (mp3 audio) and underwent an immediate cornea transplant and lens replacement, and required several additional eye surgeries.
- A 12-year-old boy forgot to unwrap the fuse of a fountain firework, making the fuse too short. It exploded almost immediately and blew up in his face, severely injuring his eye.
- After a man lit smoke bombs that created colored smoke, his 4-year-old son leaned in to get a closer look. Tar from the smoke bomb wick shot into the boy’s eye, causing a corneal abrasion.
Even sparklers are dangerous. Sparklers typically burn at 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit and cause 27 percent of all fireworks injuries, including third-degree burns.
Bottle rockets cause some of the most serious eye injuries. Errant bottle rockets can injure bystanders and cause eye lid lacerations, corneal abrasions, retinal detachment, optic nerve damage, rupture of the eyeball, and complete blindness.
One in every six fireworks-related eye injuries results in permanent vision loss or blindness.
To prevent eye injuries, follow these EyeSmart tips:
- Never let children play with fireworks of any type.
- View fireworks from at least 500 feet away.
- Leave the lighting of fireworks to trained professionals.
- Respect safety barriers set up to allow pyrotechnicians to do their jobs safely.
- If you find unexploded fireworks, do not touch them. Immediately contact your local fire or police departments.
If you experience an eye injury during a fireworks accident, seek immediate medical help.
As for other precautions, the National Council on Fireworks Safety advises:
- Use fireworks outdoors only
- Obey local laws - if fireworks are not legal where you live, do not use them
- Always have water handy (A hose or bucket)
- Only use fireworks as intended - don't try to alter them or combine them
- Never relight a "dud" firework - Wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water
- Use common sense: spectators should keep a safe distance from the shooter and the shooter should wear safety glasses
- Alcohol and fireworks do not mix - have a "designated shooter"
- Only persons over the age of 12 should be allowed to handle sparklers of any type
- Do not ever use homemade fireworks of illegal explosives: They can kill you
- Report illegal explosives to the fire or police department in your community