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Children are at High Risk for Fireworks Eye Injuries

The American Academy of Ophthalmology Warns Consumers About Fireworks & Eye Safety

The Fourth of July is drawing near and barbeque preparations are underway. Fireworks are a traditional part of Independence Day celebrations, but they can also be dangerous. Sadly, children and teens are too often hurt by fireworks. So, before the celebration begins, get your EyeSmart fireworks safety tips from the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

Of the 9,000 fireworks-related injuries each year, 21 percent are eye injuries and more than half of the victims are young children or teenagers. For example:

  • A 6-year-old child’s eye was severely injured after he lit an M-80 firework that he found in his home. He called 911 (mp3 audio) and underwent an immediate cornea transplant and lens replacement, and required several additional eye surgeries.
  • A 12-year-old boy forgot to unwrap the fuse of a fountain firework, making the fuse too short. It exploded almost immediately and blew up in his face, seriously injuring his eye.
  • After a man lit smoke bombs that created colored smoke, his 4-year-old son leaned in to get a closer look. Tar from the smoke bomb wick shot into the boy’s eye, causing a corneal abrasion.

“Many Americans get caught up in the excitement of the Fourth of July, and forget that fireworks are also dangerous explosives,” said Monica L. Monica, M.D., an ophthalmologist and clinical correspondent for the American Academy of Ophthalmology. “The safest choice is to attend a professional fireworks display, and make it a point to supervise children at all times.”

Even sparklers are dangerous. Sparklers typically burn at 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit and cause 27 percent of all fireworks injuries, including third-degree burns. Bottle rockets cause some of the most serious eye injuries. Errant bottle rockets can injure bystanders and cause eye lid lacerations, corneal abrasions, retinal detachment, optic nerve damage, rupture of the eyeball, and complete blindness. One in every six fireworks-related eye injuries results in permanent vision loss or blindness.

To prevent eye injuries, follow these EyeSmart tips:

  • Never let children play with fireworks of any type.
  • View fireworks from at least 500 feet away.
  • Leave the lighting of fireworks to trained professionals.
  • Respect safety barriers set up to allow pyrotechnicians to do their jobs safely.
  • If you find unexploded fireworks, do not touch them. Immediately contact your local fire or police departments.

If you experience an eye injury during a fireworks accident, seek immediate medical help. For more fireworks safety tips or to find an eye M.D. in your area, visit www.geteyesmart.org.

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john fitzgerald July 05, 2012 at 05:25 PM
Illegal fireworks are being sold and used openly yet our local police will not enforce the PA ordinances. Why is this still happening ?Items defined as “ground and hand-held sparkling devices”, “novelties” and “toy caps” in American Pyrotechnics Association (APA) Standard 87-1 are “non-fireworks”and the only types allowed to be sold from tents, stands, convenience stores, retail establishments and other various outlets not licensed by the Department of Agriculture. PA residents may purchase Consumer Fireworks only with a display permit issued by the municipality wherein the display will take place. A permit for a fireworks display must be obtained from the municipality where the display will take place. The municipality is the only governing body with authority to issue this permit under reasonable rules and regulations adopted by them. Upon inspection of the display site by the fire chief, or other designated officer, and the posting of a bond of at least $500 for any possible damages, the municipality may issue a permit to a person they deem competent. How many permits were issued by Warminster township for personal fireworks displays? I have no objection to enjoying fireworks but safety must come first and the laws were established for this reason. Please refer to this PA state website http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/psp/4451/fireworksfaq/537214
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