With Independence Day just around the corner, millions of people are preparing to celebrate with games, grilling, and of course, fireworks. While fireworks can be a thrilling spectacle, they can also be dangerous, so it’s essential to prioritize safety—especially when it comes to protecting your eyes.
Every year, numerous eye injuries occur due to mishandling or negligence around fireworks, so we’ve compiled our top tips for enjoying the Fourth while ensuring eye safety!
Your eyes are highly sensitive organs, which means they’re at a greater risk of injury around fireworks. Fireworks can cause burns, corneal abrasions, retinal detachments, and even permanent vision loss. In 2021 alone, fireworks caused 9 deaths and over 11,500 injuries, 14% of which were eye injuries. Knowing the risks associated with firework use is half of the battle when it comes to eye safety.
Corneal abrasions make up around 67% of the eye injuries caused by fireworks each year. The cornea contains thousands of nerve endings, making this injury particularly painful. Burns are another common and painful threat—especially with handheld fireworks, like sparklers. Some of the more severe ocular injuries are retinal detachment or a ruptured globe. These serious injuries have the potential to cause permanent vision loss.
One of the safest ways to enjoy fireworks is by attending public, professional displays. These events typically have designated viewing areas that are placed at a safe distance from the fireworks. Public displays are well-managed, ensuring high safety standards and reducing the risk of accidents and eye injuries.
Because fireworks are so risky, handling and lighting them should be left to trained professionals. New Jersey law limits the kinds of fireworks available, so we recommend avoiding any problems by skipping at-home fireworks displays.
Private fireworks displays and sparklers can pose serious dangers to adults and children, so it’s best to avoid them altogether. However, if you find yourself in an environment like a neighborhood barbecue with fireworks or sparklers nearby, wear appropriate eye protection.
Ordinary eyeglasses are not sufficient protection against potential eye hazards, so opt for a pair of safety goggles or glasses instead. Heavier duty eye gear can help to shield your eyes from the debris, sparks, and chemicals that come with fireworks.
Children face especially high risks of firework-related injuries. If you attend a public display, teach your child about firework safety and ensure that they can enjoy the show without hazard. Always supervise children closely and ensure that they are at a safe distance when fireworks are being lit.
The most-commonly used fireworks in the everyday household—and by children—are sparklers and firecrackers. However, these explosives are also the most common culprits for chemical and thermal burns to the skin, face, and eyes. Sparklers burn at around 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, which is hot enough to melt some metals. A single mistake when handling them could be costly.
If a fireworks-related injury does occur, seek immediate medical help and do not try to treat the problem yourself. By protecting your safety and visual health around fireworks, you can enjoy your Independence Day celebrations with peace of mind. Stay safe, stay responsible, and have a happy Fourth of July weekend!