The Importance of Fireworks Eye Safety

We all love celebrating Independence Day with some good food, friends and family, and a dazzling display of fireworks.

However, it’s easy to forget that fireworks are explosives. Injuries from fireworks are so common that the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) publishes yearly reports on the matter. According to the 2018 report, 9,100 fireworks-related injuries were treated in hospitals during the year, over half of which happened in July alone. A fifth of them were eye injuries, and these are just the injuries the CPSC knows about.

How Are Fireworks Dangerous?

Fireworks are not just pretty sparks and lights. When a firework goes off, it’s exploding, and pieces of firework shrapnel or live sparks can easily strike an unprotected eye and cause permanent vision loss. Even sparklers can be dangerous, as the sparks burn as hot as 3000°F. That’s not something we want near our eyes, or the eyes of a child.

Good Safety Rules to Follow

The safest way to enjoy fireworks is not to handle them at all, but to watch a professional fireworks show from a safe distance. However, if you do end up buying some fireworks of your own, make sure to follow some basic safety rules.

  • Read the instructions carefully before using any fireworks and follow them, including how far away to stand when they go off.
  • DO NOT aim fireworks at people. Not even the smallest ones.
  • If a lit firework seems to be a dud, don’t look into the tube to check.
  • Everyone working closely with the fireworks should wear safety goggles. In an accident, goggles can be the difference between permanent blindness and walking away injury-free.
  • Keep young children away from fireworks, and carefully supervise older children using them. This includes firecrackers and sparklers.
  • Follow state and local laws regarding which fireworks are permitted.

In Case of a Firework-Related Eye Injury

Even when we do everything right, sometimes an injury will still happen. If it does, what we do next is very important. Go straight to the emergency room for treatment. If the injured eye has a piece of firework in it, do not attempt to remove it. Tape a cup over the eye to prevent the injured person from rubbing or touching the eye. The sooner the eye can be treated by medical professionals, the better the chances are for recovery.

Enjoy the rockets’ red glare (but from a safe distance) this 4th of July!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.