For Americans, the Fourth of July holiday is marked with relaxing backyard barbeques and patriotic firework displays. Unfortunately, the fun can be cut short when fireworks are handled inappropriately resulting in serious injuries. Celebrating the Fourth of July with fireworks is an American tradition, but safety needs to be the top priority. Children are especially vulnerable to injury from fireworks, particularly sparklers because they are handled at such close distances.
According to a study by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, fireworks were the culprit for an estimated 8,800 injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments during 2009. Of these, 54% of the victims were children and teens under the age of 20 years and 46% were adults
The American Optometric Association recommends the following tips for firework use to protect and preserve eyesight during the Fourth of July holiday:
- Discuss firework safety with children and teens prior to the Fourth of July holiday.
- Do not allow kids to handle fireworks and never leave them unsupervised near fireworks.
- Wear protective eyewear when lighting and handling fireworks of any kind.
- Sparklers are the number one cause of fireworks injuries; Don’t buy sparklers heating up to 1,800 degrees
- Only light fireworks when family, friends, and children are at a safe distance.
If a firework-related eye injury does occur, follow these recommendations:
• DO NOT rub the eye.
• Use an eye wash or let tears wash out specks or particles;
• Lift the upper eyelid outward and down over the lower lid;
• If the speck doesn’t wash out, keep the eye closed, bandage and see a doctor or go
to the emergency room.
If the eye or eyelid is cut or punctured:
•DO NOT wash out the eye with water.
•DO NOT try to remove an object stuck in the eye.
•Cover the eye with a rigid shield without pressure, yhe bottom half of a paper cup may be used.
•See a doctor or go to the emergency room immediately.
If an eye injury does occur, always follow up with a full optometric eye exam. An optometrist will help ensure that the injury heals correctly and will continue to monitor for future vision problems.
With the Fourth of July less than a week away, make sure you are aware of the correct ways to handle fireworks to ensure both your safety and the safety of your family and friends. Celebrate the USA and the gift of sight by enjoying the beautiful and colorful firework displays that will be in no short supply.
Dr. Ted Watson, OD
“The Digital Doc”
Eye Doctor | Greenville
Doctors Vision Center