Fireworks and Eye Safety: What You Need to Know

Fireworks injuries cause approximately 10,500 visits to the emergency room each year, according to data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. As families and communities make plans for a star-spangled Fourth of July, we would like to shine some light on fireworks safety.

Injuries from fireworks largely occur in the weeks before and after the Fourth of July.

To help prevent these injuries, here are some myths about consumer fireworks risk:

Small doesn’t always equal safe – A common culprit of fireworks injuries is the kind often handed to small children — the classic sparkler. Many people mistakenly believe sparklers are harmless due to their size. However, they can reach temperatures of up to 2,000 degrees — hot enough to melt certain metals. Even tiny poppers or snappers can pose dangers.

Even though it looks like a dud, it may not act like one – Injury and serious eye trauma can occur when people mistakenly think that a firework is no longer active or hot — never touch unexploded fireworks.

Just because you’re not lighting or throwing it doesn’t mean you’re out of the line of fire – An international study of fireworks-related eye injuries showed that nearly half of the people injured by fireworks are bystanders. The research also found that one in six of these injuries caused severe vision loss. Two of the most common culprits of firework related injuries are mortar-type fireworks and bottle rockets, which are thrown before they explode and can strike an innocent bystander.

Safety tips:
1. Never let children play with any type of firework, including sparklers.
2. People who handle fireworks and all bystanders should wear protective eyewear that meets the parameters set by the American National Standards Institute.
3. When viewing a professional firework display, view fireworks from at least 500 feet away and respect all safety barriers.

If you experience a fireworks-related eye injury:
Seek medical attention immediately.
Avoid rubbing or rinsing the eyes or applying pressure.
Do not remove any object from the eye, apply ointments or take any pain medication before seeking medical help.

The holiday CAN be complete without using consumer fireworks. Although consumer-grade fireworks are legal in many states, they are extremely dangerous and can cause devastating ocular injuries and even blindness. From a public health and injury prevention perspective, we believe that we need to increase awareness of the potential dangers of fireworks and eliminate the use of consumer fireworks. Please celebrate safely this Fourth of July and leave fireworks to the professionals!

protect your eyes from fireworks