Whether you are celebrating the Fourth of July or just lighting off fireworks for some summer fun, it is important to be safe and protect your eyes from injuries. Eye injuries are the second most common type of injury due to fireworks; skin burns are the first. Many of these eye injuries can cause permanent vision damage. The most common age group to sustain eye injuries due to fireworks are children under the age of 15, especially young boys who are roughhousing. Bottle rockets seem to be the most dangerous type of firework in terms of percentage of injuries caused, but anything can cause injuries, including handheld sparklers. Sparklers are typically considered a “safe” firework for children to hold, but the temperature of a burning sparkler is approximately 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit and they are responsible for most fireworks injuries in children under the age of 5.
If someone sustains an eye injury due to fireworks, it is important to seek medical attention immediately regardless of the severity of the injury. Do not allow the injured person to apply pressure to their eye, rub the eye or rinse the eye. Do not take over-the-counter pain medication, as NSAIDs can worsen any bleeding. Take the injured person to the emergency room.
Many eye injuries due to fireworks are completely preventable. The safest way to watch fireworks is to see a professional fireworks show. However, if you want to light off fireworks at a cookout, you can take extra precautions to prevent injuries, including eye injuries, and have a fun and safe holiday.
Never allow young children to play with fireworks, even sparklers. Sparklers can cause burns and eye injuries. Even older children should be supervised at all times. Young children can wear safety glasses to protect their eyes. Do not buy illegal or professional fireworks; these can be extremely dangerous, especially if you do not know what you are doing. After lighting fireworks, back up quickly and make sure the firework is away from everybody and not pointed towards anyone. Never light more than one firework at once. If a firework does not go off, never try to re-light the fuse. Do not light off fireworks if you have been drinking alcohol. Drop spent fireworks in a bucket of water before throwing them away so that they do not catch the trash on fire, and have a hose or buckets of water ready in case a fire starts.