The Fourth of July is just a few weeks away and Fireworks Eye Safety Month is upon is.

We all know that fireworks can be dangerous if not handled properly.  But did you know that fireworks were involved in an estimated 10,500 injuries in 2014 with at least 7,000 of those resulting in visits to an emergency room?  Keep in mind that these are “reported” injuries which means there were more that went unreported.  In addition, children 15 years of age and under accounted for 35% of these injuries with children between the ages of 5 to 9 years of age making up the highest estimated rate of emergency department-treated injuries related to fireworks.  19% of these injuries were eye-injuries that typically included lacerations, contusions, and foreign bodies in the eyes.

According to a statistical report by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, fireworks injuries were mostly related to misuse or malfunctions of fireworks:

  • Accidentally knocking over fireworks
  • Setting off fireworks improperly
  • Smoke and debris from fireworks
  • Being too close to lit fireworks
  • Lighting fireworks in one’s hand
  • Lighting fireworks too close to someone
  • Trying to blow out or relight fireworks that were already lit
  • Dismantling (taking apart) fireworks
  • Setting off fireworks without ensuring a clear path

What can you do to avoid injuries related to fireworks and still enjoy your fourth of July?

  • When you are lighting fireworks, wear eye protection.
  • View fireworks from at least 500 feet away.
  • Do not allow children to play with fireworks. If you do give them sparklers, make sure they are supervised by an adult and make sure they keep them ways from their hair, clothing and especially their face.  Also, do not allow your children to wave or run with sparklers, light only one sparkler at a time and hold it at arm’s length from the body.
  • Only use or purchase legal fireworks that are manufactured and labeled by a legal fireworks manufacturer.
  • Never use fireworks of any type inside a house or any building. Fireworks are for outdoor use only.
  • Have a bucket of water or hose nearby just in case of an accident.
  • Never attempt to relight or blow out a firework
  • Soak all fireworks in a bucket of water before throwing them in a metal trash can.
  • Do not light fireworks while holding them in your hand or using any part of your body to hold them still.
  • Do not carry fireworks in your pockets – the friction could cause them to ignite.
  • Do not throw fireworks at others or in their direction – steer clear of others.
  • Do not throw fireworks or point them in the direction of homes or flammable brush, leaves, etc.
  • Do not allow children to pick up pieces of fireworks after an event – they may still be lit.

If for some reason you or a loved one sustains an eye injury related to a fireworks accident, seek medical attention immediately.   And follow these instructions:

  • Do not rub the eye.
  • Do not put ointment into or on your eye.
  • Do not stop to find medicine.
  • Do not apply any pressure to the eye.
  • Do not attempt to rinse out the eye.

On behalf of Fort Lauderdale Eye Institute and staff, have a wonderful fourth of July and remember to have keep your eyes healthy and safe!