The 4th of July brings to mind visions of parades, cookouts, and, of course, fireworks. Fireworks and celebrations just seem to go together, especially on the 4th of July. Unfortunately, every 4th of July also sees about 11,000 individuals go to the emergency room for fireworks related injuries with 18 percent of those injuries involving the eye. In fact, eye injury is second only to burns when it comes to injury from fireworks. Of the 18 percent, sky rockets or bottle rockets account for 15 percent of eye injuries related to fireworks on the 4th of July.
Eye injuries from fireworks are often devastating with one-third of the injuries resulting in permanent eye damage and one-fourth in partial vision loss or blindness. Even more unfortunate is the fact that children under age 15 watching fireworks are the most frequently injured. Additionally, sparklers, many children’s favorite firework, are the source of 10% of injuries caused by fireworks and can actually burn at 1800 degrees, which is hot enough to melt gold.
Attending a public display of fireworks on the 4th of July is by far the safest way to enjoy fireworks since professional displays rarely lead to spectator injury. There is simply no safe way for non-professionals to use fireworks. However, regardless of how unsafe they might be, non-professional displays will continue to be a popular way to enjoy the holiday. For this reason, knowing the action steps that can help prevent serious injury as well as minimize damage once injury does occur is essential. While the focus here is on eye injury, the steps are easily applicable to any injury related to fireworks.
How To Treat Fireworks Eye Injuries
When fireworks cause an injury, seek medical attention immediately. Even if the injury seems mild, damaged areas can easily worsen if proper treatment does not occur right away. Second, stay calm when an accident happens. Keep the victim as calm as possible as well. Third, when the injury is to the eye, do not rub the eye and be vigilant in keeping a child’s hand away from his or her injured eye. Pressure often does more harm than good when it comes to eye injury.
Next, avoid rinsing the injured eye since this can be even more damaging than rubbing the eye. Instead, shield the eye from any pressure by covering it with a foam cup, milk carton or similar shield. Use tape to secure the makeshift shield. Fifth, avoid any pain medications. Getting to the emergency room as quickly as possible is priority, plus many pain medications can thin the blood and cause increased bleeding. Also, do not apply any ointment or medication directly to the eye as this can make the eye slippery and the physician’s job more difficult.
How To Prevent Fireworks Eye Injuries
Obviously, preventing injury is the best approach. First and foremost, the best prevention is attending a professional fireworks display and refraining from non-professional displays at someone’s home. If you do choose to attend a non-professional fireworks display, have everyone present wear safety glasses. Safety glasses may not prevent all fireworks injuries, but they can prevent a majority of serious injuries to the eyes, and they certainly can reduce the severity of those injuries. Regular glasses and sunglasses certainly will not prevent injury and may break or shatter and worsen an existing injury or cause additional injury. When it comes to children, proper adult supervision along with having them wear children’s safety glasses is a must. Taking these simple safety precautions can prevent serious eye damage and allow the 4th of July to continue being a day remembered for celebrating our nations independence and enjoying parades, cookouts and fireworks.