fireworks-sparklers-eye-safetyWarm summer days are a time for fun and celebration - and for many of us, those festivities include the use of fireworks and sparklers. Some people even like to bring these things into their own backyards. Our team, however, wishes this was not the case, as both can be quite hazardous.

Each year, thousands of people fail to properly and safely handle, launch or view fireworks or sparklers. As a result, in 2017 alone:

  • Eight people died and over 12,000 were injured badly enough to require medical treatment after fireworks-related incidents. 
  • Of these, 50% of the injuries were to children and young adults under age 20.
  • Sparklers alone accounted for more than 25% of emergency room visits for fireworks injuries.
  • Over two-thirds (67%) of the injuries took place from June 16 to July 16.
And finally, the statistic our practice frets over most: in the most recent Consumer Product Safety Commission report, 14% of fireworks injuries were eye injuries.

That’s A Lot Of Accidents. Why Do They Keep Happening?

A major contributor to these types of injuries is that many people treat fireworks as a toy rather than a health risk. In reality, fireworks can rupture the globe of the eye, cause chemical and thermal burns, corneal abrasions and retinal detachment — all of which can cause permanent eye damage and vision loss.

Not only that, but according to 2015 surveys, 54% of adults have no problem letting children who are 5 to 10 years old play with sparklers or fireworks. This is despite the fact that fireworks pose the same dangers to children as they do to adults.

Sparklers, meanwhile, are certainly no better than full-fledged fireworks. They burn at about 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit or more, which is at least 300 degrees above the melting point of glass and is hot enough to burn some metals. And this style of firework was associated with the most injuries in 2015.

What Are My Next Steps? What Should I Do About Fireworks And Sparklers?

One of the easiest ways to avoid firework-related injuries is to simply not launch them yourself. Many cities and municipalities put on their own firework displays, and also utilize barriers and security enforcement to help protect members of the public.

If your family and friends insist on using some fireworks during your celebrations, be sure to follow the National Council on Fireworks Safety’s guidelines for safely using and handling fireworks. By following their key guidelines – which include obeying local laws, lighting fireworks in a proper setting, viewing fireworks from at least 500 feet away, keeping fireworks and sparklers out of your children’s hands, and wearing safety goggles when lighting fireworks – you’ll greatly reduce your chances of suffering from a painful injury that could ultimately damage your vision.

That said, please note that children 5 years old or younger should never be given sparklers, according to the American Pyrotechnics Association. These children are so young and small that they cannot hold the sparklers at a safe distance. And a responsible adult should closely supervise older children.

Accidents Can Happen - So What Do I Do If One Happens?

If an eye injury from fireworks occurs, it should be considered a medical emergency. Fireworks-related eye injuries can present with varying combined degrees of blunt force trauma, heat burns, and chemical exposure. To ensure they are treated correctly, the American Academy of Ophthalmology advises the following:

  • 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 unless directed by a doctor.

Firework safety is a serious matter. We hope that you will be especially careful and will use these firework safety guidelines to help preserve your vision during your celebrations. If you have questions or concerns that we can help answer regarding eye care and firework safety, feel to contact us. You can also request an appointment to discuss and address your concerns and eye health as needed.