Children waving sparklers on the 4th of July is as American as apple pie and baseball. Few of us know, however, that those small wands shooting out sparks sizzle at temperatures of up to 2,000 degrees and, along with other fireworks, cause thousands of eye injuries each year.
Watching fireworks with family and friends on Independence Day is a time-honored tradition, but the reality is that eye injuries caused by fireworks have doubled in recent years, resulting in about 1,200 visits to emergency rooms across the nation in 2014. Outlook Eyecare, with eye doctors in Hamilton Township, Princeton, and Mercerville, NJ is highlighting this fact to help prevent fireworks-related eye injuries this year.
Video Courtesy of the American Academy of Ophthalmology
To help New Jersey residents stay safe this Independence Day, we’ve compiled some tips that will help keep your celebrations free of eye injuries:
- Never allow children to ignite fireworks. Yes, that includes sparklers and other small, seemingly harmless products. Small doesn’t equal safe. They can even pose more danger because people are less vigilant in supervising kids lighting these fireworks. Even tiny poppers or snappers can ricochet and burn the eyes of toddlers or small children.
- Be extra cautious handling “duds.” That’s because fireworks that appear defective and are thought to be extinguished are unpredictable. Anyone igniting fireworks or handling them after they’ve been lit should wear protective eyewear to avoid accidents.
- Even spectators need to be cautious. Just because you’re not the one lighting the firework doesn’t mean you are out of the firing line. Half of those suffering eye injuries caused by fireworks were bystanders, according to an international study. Of those, 1 out of 6 victims sustained severe vision loss.
- Explosive fireworks that shoot projectiles into the air are illegal for a reason. Bottle rockets and other explosive fireworks are extremely dangerous and should not be used.
- Attend a community-sponsored fireworks show. These family-friendly events can become a new 4th of July tradition. Go just for the show, or make it a daylong outing with family and friends. Leaving the fireworks to the professionals is the safest way to enjoy the Fourth.
Remember, you should get immediate medical attention if you do suffer an eye injury and avoid rubbing or applying pressure to the eye. If you know or suspect there’s an object in your eye, don’t remove it, apply ointments, or take pain medication before getting medical help.