Both June and July are designated as National Fireworks Safety Month by Prevent Blindness America, who urges Americans to celebrate safely by leaving fireworks to the professionals. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, (CPSC), almost 6,000 Americans spent part of their Fourth of July holiday in the emergency room in 2009 due to fireworks injuries. Of those, fireworks caused an estimated 1,600 eye injuries, which included contusions, lacerations and foreign bodies in the eye. Some injuries even caused permanent vision loss.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, “safe and sane” fireworks cause more injuries than illegal fireworks, especially to preschool children. For children under the age of 5, half of the total injuries were from sparklers. Do you have any idea how hot a sparkler becomes? According to the NFPA, the tip of a sparkler burns at a temperature of more than 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit, which is hot enough to cause third-degree burns. ( By comparison, water boils at 212 degrees F; cakes bake at 350 degrees F; wood burns at 575 degrees F; and glass melts at 900 degrees F.)
Children ages 15 and younger make up around 39 per cent of fireworks injuries. Prevent Blindness America, the nation’s oldest eye health and safety organization, supports the development and enforcement of bans on the importation, sale and use of all fireworks and sparklers, except for authorized public displays by competent licensed operators. The non-profit group believes it is the only effective means of eliminating the social and economic impact of fireworks-related trauma and damage.
“We encourage everyone to enjoy the Fourth of July holiday this year without using consumer fireworks,” said Hugh R. Parry, president and CEO of Prevent Blindness America. “Whether you’re attending community events, family picnics or public displays by fireworks professionals, we wish you and your family a safe Independence Day.”
In case of an eye-related accident, Prevent Blindness America also offers its “First Aid for Eye Emergencies” sticker in both English and Spanish, free to the public, and recommends the following should an eye injury occur:
If the eye or eyelid is cut or punctured,
- DO NOT wash out the eye with water.
- DO NOT try to remove an object stuck in the eye.
- Cover the eye with a rigid shield without pressure. The bottom half of a paper cup may be used. See a doctor or go to the emergency room immediately.
If there are specks in the eye,
- DO NOT rub the eye.
- Use an eye wash or let tears wash out specks or particles;
- Lift the upper eyelid outward and down over the lower lid;
- If the speck doesn’t wash out, keep the eye closed, bandage and see a doctor or go to the emergency room.
It would be wise to have a first aid kit handy, to be prepared for any type of fireworks accidents at home. This is the beginning of summer fun; don’t spoil it by risking injury to the eyes or any other part of the body. The best way to ensure that your family doesn’t suffer from fireworks injuries is to leave the displays to trained professionals. It may seem that they are having all the fun, but it isn’t that easy to put on the fantastic shows that they provide without training and hard work.
For more information on fireworks safety, or to request a free copy of the Safe Summer Celebrations brochure or the First Aid for Eye Emergencies sticker, call (800) 331-2020 or log on to preventblindness.org.
Tomorrow, we will talk about other risks involving fireworks. Till then, be thinking of other ways you want to spend your holiday, safely!
Source: NFPA, Prevent Blindness America