PCVI and many other eye health providers support the sound warnings regarding firework eye safety. With the Fourth of July only a matter of weeks away, it’s important to review reminders that can serve as a real protection.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, fireworks are involved in thousands of injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms each year.
Most fireworks injuries occur during the one month period surrounding the Fourth of July.
- Fireworks devices were involved in an estimated 10,500 injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms in 2014 (the latest year for which data is available).
- An estimated 7,000 injuries were treated in hospital emergency rooms during the one-month period (June 20–July 20) surrounding the Fourth of July.
- 19 percent, or 1,200, of those injuries were to the eyes. Sparklers accounted for 1,400 injuries, firecrackers (1,400) and bottle rockets (100).
- Males accounted for 74% of fireworks injuries.
- 40% of fireworks injuries were to children under age 15.
- For children under 5 years old, sparklers accounted for the most estimated injuries for that specific age group.
- Data from the U.S. Eye Injury Registry shows that bystanders are more often injured by fireworks than operators themselves.
- Contusions, lacerations and foreign bodies were the most common injuries to eyes.
- There were 11 fireworks-related deaths in 2014.
Do Not Let Children Play With Fireworks
Fireworks and celebrations go together, especially during the Fourth of July, but there are precautions parents can take to prevent these injuries. The best defense against kids suffering severe eye injuries and burns is to not let kids play with any fireworks.
These Six Steps Can Help Save Your Child’s Sight
If an accident does occur, minimize the damage to the eye. In the event of an eye emergency:
- Do not rub the eye. Rubbing the eye may increase bleeding or make the injury worse.
- Do not attempt to rinse out the eye. This can be even more damaging than rubbing.
- Do not apply pressure to the eye itself. Holding or taping a foam cup or the bottom of a juice carton to the eye are just two tips. Protecting the eye from further contact with any item, including the child’s hand, is the goal.
- Do not stop for medicine! Over-the-counter pain relievers will not do much to relieve pain. Aspirin (should never be given to children) and ibuprofen can thin the blood, increasing bleeding. Take the child to the emergency room at once – this is more important than stopping for a pain reliever.
- Do not apply ointment. Ointment, which may not be sterile, makes the area around the eye slippery and harder for the doctor to examine.
- Do not let your child play with fireworks, even if his/her friends are setting them off. Sparklers burn at 1800 degrees Farenheit, and bottle rockets can stray off course or throw shrapnel when they explode.
If possible leave fireworks to the professional displays that are held at various venues on the Fourth of July.
(Thanks to PreventBlindness.Org)