With the pandemic finally winding down and Independence Day just around the corner, many Americans may be looking forward to getting together with family and watching some fireworks. Some might even be tempted to light a few rockets! But while fireworks are certainly fun to watch, they are also incredibly dangerous. Eyes, which are delicate and complex organs, are especially vulnerable to injury.
In 2019 alone, fireworks caused 1,500 eye injuries—mostly contusions and lacerations. In fact, those aged 4 or younger accounted for the majority of fireworks-related emergency room visits. These accidents have led many organizations to designate both June and July as Fireworks Safety Months.
Though there is a wide range in the severity of fireworks-related eye injuries, any damage is cause for concern. Fireworks involve heat, force, and chemicals, which can result in injuries, like chemical burns, infections, corneal abrasions, and retinal detachment. Some accidents may result in a few lasting effects, while others can cause total vision loss. Fortunately, there are several concrete steps that you can take to prevent eye injuries this Independence Day.
The simplest and most effective way to avoid fireworks-related injuries is to not buy them or set them off. Attend a proper fireworks show instead. Besides, most fireworks are illegal under New Jersey state law. Save yourself a trip to both the hospital and the police station!
If you are around small fireworks, like sparklers and bottle rockets, keep them far away from any children. And provide all members of your family with protective eyewear. Studies show that 65% of people who sustain injuries from fireworks are bystanders.
If an eye injury does occur, there are several things to remember. Most importantly, you should not attempt to put pressure on the injured eye, wash it out, or apply medicine to it.
It may seem counterintuitive, but attempting to treat the injury yourself can make it worse! Putting medicine or ointment on the eye can make it more difficult for the doctor to examine, and applying pressure or rubbing the injured eye might increase bleeding. Instead, you should simply drive the victim to the closest emergency room, where a doctor can examine the injury and decide the best course of action.
Fireworks are exciting to watch, but leave setting them off to the professionals! No fireworks show is worth damaging your eyes. So go ahead and celebrate this Independence Day—but celebrate safely!