Independence Day is right around the corner, and with this holiday comes parades, backyard barbeques, and of course, fireworks shows. And while playing with fireworks in your own backyard may sound like fun, thousands of people are injured by fireworks per year, many of whom are children. Most fireworks injuries occur during the weeks before and after the Fourth of July. Playing with fireworks can cause blindness in cases where eye injuries are sustained.  In the most severe cases, patients with eye injuries from fireworks can experience a ruptured globe of the eye, chemical and thermal burns, corneal abrasions, and retinal detachment. All of these conditions can damage the eye and cause permanent blindness.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission fireworks injury report, in 2017 fireworks caused over 12,900 injuries that required treatment at an emergency room, and between 2012 and 2014, eye injuries related to fireworks treated in the emergency room more than doubled from around 600 to 1300. 70% of fireworks injuries occurred in males.

Oftentimes, people injured by fireworks are not those who are handling them – half of people injured are bystanders. 35% of those injured are children under the age of 15. Two of the most common culprits of fireworks injuries are mortar-type fireworks and bottle rockets, which are thrown before they explode and can strike an innocent bystander.

Fireworks Safety Tips:

  • The best way to avoid an eye injury is to attend a professional public fireworks show rather than purchasing fireworks for home use. There is really no safe way for non-professionals to use fireworks.
  • View fireworks from at least 500 feet away and respect safety barriers set up by professionals.
  • Contact local fire departments to dispose of unexploded fireworks and do not try to handle them yourself.
  • If you do choose to buy fireworks for home use:
    • Never let young children light, play with, or handle fireworks, not even sparklers. Small doesn’t always mean safe – meaning even sparklers and poppers pose a threat. Sparklers can reach temperatures of up to 2,000 degrees and can be hot enough to melt certain metals.  As you can imagine, since they are hand-held, they pose a significant threat to eyes and the possibility of a burn.
    • Wear protective eyewear while handling fireworks and make sure bystanders are also wearing protective eyewear. Make sure the eyewear meets safety parameters set by the American National Standards Institute.
    • Professional-grade fireworks should be left to professional pyrotechnicians.

If an eye injury from fireworks occurs:

  • Seek medical attention ASAP.
  • Do not rub your eyes.
  • Do not apply pressure.
  • Do not attempt to remove objects stuck to your eyes.

Unexpected injuries not only ruin celebrations, but can permanently change lives. Please celebrate the Fourth of July safely and leave fireworks to the professionals.

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