Fireworks are dangerous and July 4 is an especially risky time for eye injuries.
The most recent Consumer Product Safety Commission report found that 14% of fireworks injuries were eye injuries. In the most severe cases, fireworks can rupture the globe of the eye, cause chemical and thermal burns, corneal abrasions and retinal detachment — all of which can cause permanent eye damage and vision loss.
When Fireworks Injure the Eye
Children and young adults are frequent victims. Children age 15 and under accounted for one-third of the total injuries, according to the commission’s report. And half of the injuries requiring an emergency room visit were to people age 20 or younger. Firecrackers were the top cause of injury, sending more than 2,000 people to the emergency room.
Even sparklers can be dangerous, as they burn at more than 2,000 degrees Farenheit. Sparklers were responsible for 1,495 of the injuries in the latest report, and a sparkler mishap caused one of the fireworks deaths reported in 2017.
The people injured by fireworks aren’t necessarily handling the explosives themselves. In fact, 65% of people injured by fireworks were bystanders, according to another study. The statistics don’t lie. Children and people not handling fireworks themselves are in as much danger as the people actually lighting fireworks.
Safety when using fireworks at home
For those who decide to purchase and use consumer fireworks in states where they are legal, follow these safety tips from the Consumer Product Safety Commission:
- Do not allow young children to play with fireworks. Sparklers, a firework often considered by many to be the ideal “safe” device for the young, burn at very high temperatures and should be not be handled by young children. Children may not understand the danger involved with fireworks and may not act appropriately while using the devices or in case of emergency.
- Older children should be permitted to use fireworks only under close adult supervision.
- Do not allow any running or horseplay.
- Set off fireworks outdoors in a clear area, away from houses, dry leaves, or grass and other flammable materials.
- Keep a bucket of water nearby for emergencies and for pouring on fireworks that fail to ignite or explode.
- Do not try to relight or handle malfunctioning or “dud” fireworks. Soak them with water and throw them away.
- Be sure other people are out of range before lighting fireworks.
- Never light fireworks in a container, especially a glass or metal container.
- Keep unused fireworks away from firing areas.
- Store fireworks in a cool, dry place.
- Check instructions for special storage directions.
- Observe local laws.
- Never let any body part hover directly over a firework while lighting.
- Do not experiment with homemade fireworks