Keep Safe While Around Fireworks
A regional physician provides firework safety tips. Caution: Even pretty sparklers burn at nearly 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, which is hot enough to cause a third-degree burn.
Every Fourth of July, thousands of people are injured from using consumer fireworks. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 9,000 fireworks-related injuries happen each year. Of these, nearly half are head-related injuries, with nearly 30 percent of these injuries to the eyes. One-fourth of fireworks eye injuries results in permanent vision loss or blindness.
Patients First Health Care Ophthalmologist, Dr. Glenn Sanford, reminds consumers to leave fireworks to professionals. “Too many Fourth of July celebrations are ruined because a child has to be rushed to the emergency room after a fireworks accident,” he said, representing the Patients First Eureka and Washington-based medical teams in a community safety statement. “Potentially blinding injuries can be avoided if families attend a professional public fireworks display instead of putting on a home fireworks display.”
Children are the most common victims of firework accidents, with those 15 years old or younger accounting for half of all fireworks eye injuries in the United States, according to industry statistics.
For children under the age of 5 years, seemingly innocent sparklers account for one-third of all fireworks injuries. Sparklers can burn at nearly 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, which is hot enough to cause a third-degree burn.
“Among the most serious injuries are abrupt trauma to the eye from bottle rockets,” said Sanford in the statement. The rockets fly erratically, often injuring bystanders. Injuries from bottle rockets can include eyelid lacerations, corneal abrasions, traumatic cataract, retinal detachment, optic nerve damage, rupture of the eyeball, eye muscle damage and complete blindness, he said.
Sanford urges observance of the following tips:
- Never let children play with fireworks of any type.
- View fireworks from a safe distance: at least 500 feet away, or up to a quarter of a mile for best viewing.
- Respect safety barriers set up to allow pyrotechnicians to do their jobs safely.
- Leave the lighting of fireworks to trained professionals.
- Follow directives given by event ushers or public safety personnel.
- If you find unexploded fireworks remains, do not touch them. Immediately contact your local fire or police departments.
- If you get an eye injury from fireworks, immediately seek medical help from an urgent care or emergency response staff.