Protecting your Eyes and How to be Safe with Fireworks

 In Eye Care

Each year Americans enjoy firework shows in celebration of Independence Day. However, many don’t realize that careless handling of fireworks can result in diminishing their own independence due to an eye injury.

According to the U.S. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) around 12,000 Americans visit emergency rooms due to firework related eye injuries from June 16 through July 16. Taking a few precautions may help prevent a tragedy and potential loss of vision.

Fireworks can cause catastrophic injuries to the eyes including chemical burns, rupture of the eye globe, retinal detachment, corneal abrasions and more. Some of these injuries may lead to vision loss, so we urge all our patients to prevent fireworks accidents as much as possible.

The goal of this article is not to cause unnecessary fear. As Americans, we love Independence Day celebrations, but as eyecare professionals we are aware of the risks and want to help our patients stay safe. Awareness and caution ensure that July Fourth continues to be a day to celebrate. Whether you enjoy a picnic, barbecue, or community festival stay safe this holiday weekend!

Note the following advice on how to be safe with fireworks is general information, not professional or medical advice.

How To Be Safe With Fireworks And Still Have A Good Time

Few things inspire the festive spirit like fireworks. Also, fireworks have become deeply symbolic to many Americans. Take care so you and your family can enjoy the splendor of fireworks for generations to come.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology suggests a few safety tips to help ensure a happy and injury-free Fourth of July.

  • Do not let children launch or play with fireworks.
  • View the fireworks from a distance of at least 500 feet to minimize risk.
  • Consider opting to attend professionally lit firework shows.
  • If you attend an amateur show, pay attention to your state’s guidelines and laws. Here is a summary of North Carolina’s consumer firework regulations. However professional fireworks displays are safest and recommended by the AAO.
  • If you find fireworks remains, do not touch them! Notify the fire department or police.
  • Do not let young children play with sparklers or similar consumer firework products. Also closely supervise older kids use of them. While people think of sparklers as “safe,” they do burn at very high temperatures that can cause burning, eye injury or even death if mishandled.
  • Pay extra attention to pets and consider confining them inside, after all they may be curious and don’t understand the danger of approaching sparklers or fireworks so are just as vulnerable as small children.

If you opt to enjoy legal, consumer fireworks be sure to follow North Carolina’s regulations as they were developed for everyone’s safety. In addition, follow these guidelines from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission:

  • Only use legal, commercially available fireworks, not homemade fireworks for consistency.
  • Launch them in an open area, away from flammable objects like plants, trees, buildings, etc.
  • Just like with professional fireworks, viewers should stay at least 500 feet away.
  • Keep a bucket of water nearby as well as fire extinguishers for emergencies.
  • Never light fireworks in a glass or metal container.
  • Store fireworks in a dry, cool environment.
  • Only adults should light fireworks.
  • Do not place any part of the body over fireworks as they are lit.
  • Do not attempt to relight malfunctioning fireworks. Douse them with water and discard.

Since safety is so important, we offer one more set of recommendations from the American Pyrotechnics Association:

  • Only use fireworks that are legal in your local area.
  • Carefully read the manufacturer’s instructions and follow them.
  • Choose an area away from buildings that has a hard, flat, non-flammable surface.
  • Do not carry fireworks in your pocket
  • Always wear safety glasses when firing fireworks
  • Avoid aiming fireworks at people, pets, or flammable objects.
  • After you are finished, let used fireworks sit for 20 minutes to cool. Then submerge them in water and place them in a plastic bag after draining the water.
  • Have a hose and water bucket handy before, during and afterward.
  • Light the fireworks one at a time.
  • Avoid reigniting failed fireworks and do not approach them.

The AAO strongly recommends making a tradition of attending public fireworks shows that are lit and run by professionals. Not only is this safer, it offers the opportunity to celebrate with your community. Many cities run special family activities like concerts or carnivals that may further enhance the festive spirit.

What To Do In The Case Of Fireworks-Related Eye Injury

Although following the AAO and CPSC guidelines greatly minimize the risk of eye injury from fireworks, sometimes accidents happen. It still helps to be aware of how to react if you experience or witness a fireworks accident.

Always seek medical attention immediately. In addition:

  • Avoid rubbing the eyes
  • Avoid rinsing the eyes
  • Do not remove any foreign objects from the eyes
  • Do not apply pressure to the eyes
  • Avoid blood thinning medications like aspirin
  • Do not apply ointments
  • Call the ambulance and go to the emergency room immediately

Some of this advice may seem counterintuitive but there are multiple complications of fireworks injuries. Immediate medical attention offers the best chance of diminishing the damage and possibly saving vision or even a life.

We hope this post covering how to stay safe with fireworks was helpful. Independence Day is a time when family and friends gather to celebrate. Lifelong memories and bonds are formed, we just want to help ensure these memories are happy.

Happy Independence Day to you and your family!

North Carolina residents trust their eyes to Piedmont Eyecare. After the festivities are done, we hope you consider us for your family’s needs. You can also give a read to the practical tips for eye care from top eye care associates for more information. Regular eye examinations are a must for everyone, if you don’t have an eye doctor, call us today to schedule examinations for yourself and your family. Healthy eyes enable you to enjoy fireworks shows for years to come!

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