10,000 Reasons to Leave Fireworks to the Professionals

Every year about 10,000 people are rushed to the emergency room for fireworks injuries. Many people believe that consumer fireworks are safe. But here’s the explosive truth: Most injuries are caused by legal fireworks that parents buy for their children, such as sparklers, firecrackers, bottle rockets and Roman candles. Ophthalmologists – physicians who specialize in medical and surgical eye care – treat thousands of patients who suffer a range of fireworks-related injuries, from cuts and bruises to damaged corneas, retinas and ruptured eyeballs. To help reduce the number of potentially blinding fireworks accidents this holiday, Chippewa Valley Eye Clinic is sharing these tips:

  • Wear protective eyewear when igniting fireworks. Ophthalmologists recommend that every household have at least one pair of ANSI-approved protective eyewear. Stop by any hardware store and pick up some safety glasses for the entire family.
  • Don’t pick up duds and misfires. Dr. Heidi Jarecki, ophthalmologist at Chippewa Valley Eye Clinic, once treated a young man who went to see if a firework was a dud because it hadn’t gone off after being lit. It went off at that moment and struck him in the eye, rupturing the vascular layer of the back of his eye (choroidal rupture), causing immediate and permanent vision loss. Keep a hose a buckets of water on hand for duds and misfires. Soak up the dud from a distance with a hose or bucket of water. Pick it up with a shovel and fully submerge it in water to ensure it’s safe for disposal.
  • Keep a safe distance. Fireworks injure bystanders as often as the operator. Injuries can occur to bystanders who are even a hundred yards away.
  • Supervise children closely. Sparklers seem harmless fun for kids, but they are responsible for about 1,400 eye injuries each year. Even those tiny poppers or snappers can pose dangers. “Kids and young people are the most at risk in my experience,” says Dr. Jarecki. She recalls treating a child with a corneal burn from a sparkler that the child walked into. The child had permanent vision loss as a result.
  • Celebrate with the pros. The Fourth can be celebrated without using consumer fireworks. Chippewa Valley Eye Clinic advises that the safest way to view fireworks is to watch a professional show.

If an eye injury from fireworks does occur:

  • Seek medical attention immediately
  • Do not rub the eye. Rubbing may make the injury worse
  • Do not attempt to rinse the eye
  • Do not apply pressure to the eye
  • Do not remove objects from the eye
  • Do not apply ointments or take pain medications before seeking medical help

Consumer fireworks are a treasured part of Fourth of July celebrations, so it’s easy to forget the dangers they can pose, particularly to the eyes. Chippewa Valley Eye Clinic encourages everyone to make safety a priority this Fourth of July.

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