June is in full swing and stores are starting to stock fireworks in preparation for the Fourth of July. While fireworks can be fun and festive, they can also cause injuries to those who mishandle them, especially to the eyes. Approximately 19% of injuries from fireworks happen to the eyes, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. If you’re going to be handling fireworks next month, here is what you need to know to stay safe.
How to Avoid Eye Injuries From Fireworks
The most common eye injuries from fireworks are damaged corneas and retinas. These injuries are often caused by shrapnel and debris from the fireworks that get launched into the eye. In order to prevent these types of injuries, please follow these safety tips:
- Wear protective eyewear while handling fireworks. Polycarbonate safety glasses are readily available online or at hardware stores and will not shatter on impact. Wearing them can prevent sight threatening injuries.
- Keep a safe distance. Shrapnel from mishandled fireworks can be launched over 100 yards away from the initial blast. Maintaining a safe distance from a firework will mitigate any chance of injury.
- Don’t pick up duds. If a firework is a dud, handling it can still cause it to explode. Keep a source of water on hand and douse any duds before picking them up.
- Have an adult supervise children. Sparklers, firecrackers, and Roman candles can all cause eye injuries when mishandled. Children should be supervised by their parents or another responsible adult in order to prevent these types of injuries.
- Never launch fireworks in metal or glass containers. These types of containers can easily shatter and create dangerous shrapnel.
What to do if You Experience an Eye Injury
Even with all these safety tips, fireworks are dangerous devices and accidents can still happen. If you or a loved one experience an eye injury, seek immediate medical attention. While you seek medical attention:
- Do not remove objects from the eye.
- Do not apply pressure or rub the eye.
- Do not attempt to rinse the eye.
- Do not apply ointments or take pain medications.
All of these things can potentially cause further injuries when not done by a medical professional. Your local ER should be prepared to handle any injuries caused by fireworks. Head to the ER as quickly as possible to receive proper treatment for any injuries.
For further information on firework safety, please watch and share this short PSA by the American Academy of Ophthalmology about the dangers of fireworks, or visit their website at aao.org.