If you’re preparing to celebrate the Fourth with fireworks, remember that fireworks injure thousands of people each year, and 35 percent of firework victims are children ages 15 and under.
That’s according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, which stresses that fireworks are not toys but incendiary devices that can cause devastating 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 permanently cause eye damage and affect vision.
In fact, Dr. James Hahn, a pediatrician with St. Elizabeth Physicians’ Aurora office, says that because fireworks are so hazardous, children shouldn’t be anywhere near them and especially shouldn’t be holding them. Period. (Yes, even sparklers.)
“They’re hot, and they can cause damage ““ sometimes permanent ““ to your eyes and vision,” he said. “Whenever I see sparklers in the hands of babies in strollers or kids or toddlers with sparklers in my neighborhood or at Fourth of July celebrations, I cringe. I see it all the time, but they’re so dangerous.”
That goes for teenagers, too.
Each year, Hahn said, you read stories about teens who accidentally injure themselves or others with fireworks: “Fireworks should be kept out of the hands of children ““ plain and simple.”
It’s also important to note that, according to the AAO, nearly half of people injured by fireworks are bystanders.
“Respect the safety barriers around fireworks displays,” Hahn said. “Don’t get any closer than any of the barricades, which should be hundreds of feet from where the lighting-off is actually taking place.”
The AAO advises attending a professional public fireworks show rather than purchasing fireworks for home use, and staying at least 500 feet away and not touching unexploded fireworks. If you do decide to purchase fireworks and set them off at home, however, remember that the person setting off the fireworks and all bystanders should wear protective eyewear.
If you or your child suffers an eye injury this Fourth of July from a firework, Hahn said, don’t administer medicine, don’t apply pressure and don’t rub it – just go straight to the emergency room.