It’s summer in Cleveland – a time for cook-outs, camp fires and…. fireworks. At Corrective Eye Center in Cleveland, Ohio, we want nothing more than for you to enjoy your Independence Day and all of your summer months – without eye injuries. Unfortunately, when the night is calm, the fireflies are lighting up the lawns and the campfire is just getting warmed up for s’mores, most of us don’t stop to think about eye injuries before taking out a box of sparklers to keep the kids entertained.
More than 9,000 fireworks injuries happen each year in the US, with roughly 1 in 8 fireworks injuries harming the eyes, according to the June 2013 fireworks injury report from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Typical eye injuries from fireworks include burns, lacerations, abrasions, retinal detachment, optic nerve damage and ruptured eyeballs. Almost half of people injured by fireworks are bystanders and kids 15 and under make up almost a third of those harmed by fireworks near the Fourth of July holiday. What’s worse – 1 in 6 eye-related firework injuries result in permanent vision loss or blindness.
Although fireworks can bring excitement to a fun summer night, it’s critical to be aware of injuries that can be an unwanted result. Please enjoy fireworks this Independence Day, and throughout your summer excursions, without becoming an eye-injury statistic, by following these firework safety tips:
1. Leave it to the Professionals
The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a professional fireworks display and remain aware of the dangers as even professional displays can cause injuries.
2. One and a Half Football Fields
Always respect safety barriers at fireworks shows and view the display from 500 feet away or further – which is a little more than one and a half football fields. So a “front-row seat” is not a good idea at firework events.
3. Put the Lighter Fluid Away – Far Away
Clear the area of any flammable materials. Pay close attention to the gas grill or the lighting fluid you brought for the charcoal. These should be put back inside or packed in the car before engaging with firework activities.
4. Unexploded Fireworks Are Even More Dangerous
Leave unexploded fireworks alone – call your local fire or police department. Remember these are explosive devices, and if it didn’t explode, something is wrong with the way it was manufactured, or conditions that device has been exposed to – making an unexploded firework more dangerous, less reliable and not consistent with it’s intended use.
5. Professional-Grade Explosives Require Professionals
If you are enjoying the holiday out of town, in a state that allows consumers to purchase fireworks, leave the lighting of professional-grade fireworks to trained pyrotechnicians. Even sparklers burn 1,000 degrees hotter than boiling point of water – imagine what the professional-grade fireworks burn at.
6. Wear Protective Eyewear
Always wear protective eyewear when handling any fireworks.
7. Sparklers are Not Safe for Little Children
Never let young children play with fireworks of any kind – even sparklers. If older children are permitted to handle fireworks, make sure they are closely supervised and wearing protective eyewear.
“It’s crucial that the public understand the potentially devastating dangers that backyard fireworks shows can present,” said Philip R. Rizzuto, M.D., ophthalmologist and communications secretary for The American Academy of Ophthalmology. “The American Academy of Ophthalmology urges parents and responsible adults to be especially vigilant about these risks if children are in the presence of fireworks and follow appropriate safety tips to reduce the risk of eye injury.”