Protecting your Eyes Around Fireworks

FireworksOne of the best things about summer is the fireworks on Independence Day! Many towns and cities spend tens of thousands of dollars to provide a beautiful – and hopefully safe – spectacle. Unfortunately, thousands of people suffer ocular injuries every year due to fireworks and, according to a 2015 report by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, this number has doubled in the last three years.

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, almost half of all fireworks-related eye injuries are incurred by bystanders. They recommend leaving the pyrotechnics to the professionals, and respecting safety barriers when at these displays. Anyone coming across an unexploded firework should keep their distance and immediately call 911.

The remaining fireworks-related eye injuries happen to those who are actually setting off the fireworks, and evidence shows that Americans underestimate the dangers posed by rockets, sparklers, and firecrackers. Astonishingly, according to a 2015 survey, only 10% of people wear eye protection when using fireworks! The same survey found that 54% of respondents with children age 18 and younger thought it was ok for children ages 5-10 to use sparklers or fireworks (comparatively, only 11% said it was safe to light birthday candles).

Using store bought fireworks is dangerous; if you must put on your own display, please be sure to use the following precautions:

  • Always follow the instructions
  • Do not let children use fireworks of any kind, including sparklers, which burn at up to 1800° F
  • Wear proper eye protection
  • Do not ever shoot off fireworks towards another person
  • Wash your hands after handling fireworks, as the chemicals can burn your eyes

Even if you take these precautionary steps, fireworks are unpredictable and someone might get hurt. A roman candle may explode too soon or shoot off in the wrong direction; or ash and other debris can be blown into the eyes. If you do sustain an ocular injury, go immediately to the emergency room. Do not rub, rinse, or apply pressure to the eye; or apply ointment or other medication.

Wishing you a happy and safe July 4th!