Fourth of July and Fireworks Safety Tips
The Fourth of July is one of America’s most celebrated holidays. It honors the independence of our nation and is when many American flags are erected in tribute to that great occasion. Being a summer holiday, it fosters fun in the sun: barbecues, grilling, sliced watermelon and favorite homemade desserts, outdoor games, family reunions, parades, community events, and fireworks. Here are some fireworks safety tips to keep in mind:
All of these modes of celebration just listed are enjoyed throughout the country and are mostly safe with one exception — the fireworks, especially when the fireworks are utilized by children or non-professional handlers. Every year, approximately 10,000 people are rushed to the emergency rooms for fireworks injuries, many of which are serious eye injuries. Fireworks are projectiles, as are balls, champagne corks, small toys, BB gun bullets, rubber bullets, and more. Consequently, every projectile has the potential to injure the eye and cause permanent vision loss.
Many people look at consumer fireworks like toys that are safe. But the truth is many injuries are caused by legal fireworks that parents buy for their children, such as sparklers, firecrackers, and bottle rockets.
“Consumer fireworks are a treasured part of Fourth of July celebrations, so it’s easy to forget the dangers they can pose, particularly to the eyes,” said Mark Mazow, MD, president of Texas Ophthalmological Association. “Please, take our advice. We do not want to see you in the ER this summer, especially on the Fourth of July.”
To help reduce the number of potentially blinding accidents during holiday seasons and all year round, the Texas Ophthalmological Association (TOA) shares these tips in situations where projectiles might be present:
- Wear protective eyewear: Ophthalmologists recommend that every household have at least one pair of ANSI-approved protective eyewear. Stop by any hardware store and pick up some safety glasses for the entire family.
- Don’t pick up fireworks duds and misfires: When a lit firework didn’t explode, Javonte McNair, 14, walked over and picked it up. The “dud” exploded, severing his hand and blasting hot debris into his eye, causing severe damage to his cornea. Keep a hose and buckets of water on hand for duds and misfires. Soak the dud from a distance with a hose or a bucket of water. Pick it up with a shovel and fully submerge it in a bucket of water to ensure it’s safe for disposal.
- Keep a safe distance: Bystanders are injured. Stacy Young was 100 yards away when an illegal firework sent shrapnel into her skull. Ophthalmologists couldn’t save her eye. It had to be removed.
- Supervise children closely: Sparklers seem like harmless fun for the kids, but they are responsible for about 1,400 eye injuries each year. Even those tiny poppers or snappers can pose dangers. A ricocheting popper burned parts of five-year-old Nolan Haney‘s eye and eyelid.
TOA urges everyone to exercise situational awareness not only when around fireworks but also when in large crowds and public events where public and personal safety must be closely guarded.
What To Do If You Get Injured By A Firework
If you experience an eye injury from a projectile, Dr. Mazow urges you to minimize the damage to the eye:
- Seek medical attention immediately
- Do not rub the eye, as rubbing may make the injury worse
- Do not attempt to rinse the eye
- Do not apply pressure to the eye
- Do not remove objects from the eye
- Do not apply ointments or take pain medications before seeking medical help
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