The 4th of July has become synonymous with fireworks. And while they are beautiful to watch, they can be very dangerous. As you make plans for a star-spangled holiday, take precautions that your celebration does not end tragically.
Nearly two-thirds of the fireworks injuries treated in emergency rooms happen between mid-June and mid-July. This represents approximately 10,500 visits to the emergency room each year, according to data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Children and young adults are frequent victims. Children age 15 and under accounted for 36 percent 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.
The report also found that 19 percent 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. In fact, one in six fireworks-related injuries result in permanent vision loss. And approximately 400 Americans lose sight in one or both eyes due to fireworks every year.
Of note, the people injured by fireworks aren’t necessarily handling the explosives themselves. In fact, 65 percent of those injured were bystanders, according to another study.
Even sparklers can be dangerous, as they burn at more than 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Sparklers were responsible for 1,200 of the injuries in the latest Commission report and have even been known to result in death.
Although fireworks are legal in many states, they should always be handled with caution by adults, and never by young children.
Here are some safety tips from the American Academy of Ophthalmology:
- Never let children play with any type of firework, including sparklers.
- People who handle fireworks and all bystanders should wear protective eyewear that meets the parameters set by the American National Standards Institute.
- View professional fireworks displays from at least 500 feet away and respect all safety barriers.
If you experience a fireworks-related eye injury:
- Seek medical attention immediately.
- Avoid rubbing or rinsing the eyes or applying pressure.
- Do not remove any object from the eye, apply ointments or take any blood-thinning pain medications such as aspirin or ibuprofen unless directed by a doctor.
So this July 4th , enjoy your backyard barbecue and the free concerts, but leave the fireworks to the professionals. If you choose to light your own, be sure to follow all state and local laws and fireworks instructions and wear protective eyewear.
It’s always a good idea to keep safety top of mind as you celebrate our nation’s independence.