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Fireworks and Common Sense Eye Safety

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What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Independence Day celebrations?

Most likely, you thought of fireworks. They are certainly a dazzling and exciting part of the festivities, but they can also be a serious hazard if not handled with caution. Fireworks aren’t just pretty to look at, they are explosives. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s report, in 2021 at least 18 people across the country died in incidents with fireworks and about 15,600 needed treatment in a hospital. 15% of those injuries were eye injuries.

The Dangers Inherent in Fireworks

How are fireworks so dangerous? Even sparklers burn as hot as 3000°F, and fireworks throw off live sparks and pieces of shrapnel, any of which can cause permanent vision loss if it reaches the eye. It’s critical to treat these pyrotechnic devices as explosives and take precautions so that our celebrations aren’t marred by injuries.

Tips for Fireworks Safety

The first, most important safety tip with fireworks is to stay out of range if they go in the wrong direction and simply enjoy the professional fireworks displays without personally handling any of them. However, we know many people love doing fireworks themselves. Provided that they’re within the legal limits of the area, here are essential safety rules to follow:

  • Carefully read all of the instructions for any firework you plan to use, particularly the minimum safe distance described. Follow all of these instructions!
  • NEVER aim a firework of any size at a person or animal (or yourself).
  • NEVER look into the tube of an unexploded firework if it seems like a dud.
  • Wear safety goggles at all times if you’re working closely with fireworks. This simple piece of safety equipment could be the difference between walking away uninjured and being permanently blinded in a firework accident.
  • Make sure that any older child using fireworks is closely supervised, and keep younger children away from fireworks altogether (including firecrackers and sparklers).
  • Follow all the local and state laws about fireworks.
  • Only handle fireworks while sober.

What to Do If an Accident Happens

Following all of the safety instructions will be enough to prevent most injuries from fireworks, but if an accident does happen, the next steps are critical. If there’s a piece of firework in the injured eye, don’t attempt to remove it. Tape a cup over the injured eye to protect it and keep the injured person from trying to touch it. Go straight to the emergency room. The sooner doctors can begin treating the injury, the better the chances are for recovery.

Enjoy Your Independence Day!

We wish all of our patients a fun 4th of July with family, friends, good food, and no fireworks-related injuries! To learn more about how you can keep your celebration safe for everyone present, we’d be happy to discuss it with you. Send us an email or give us a call.

Happy Independence Day!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Written by Dr. Rania Montecillo

Dr. Montecillo calls Redmond her home after living all over the world. She was born in Egypt and raised in England where her parents were both studying medicine. Dr. Montecillo moved to Redmond to attend the University of Washington, where she attained her BS in Psychology. In 1998 she went on to Pacific University and earned her Doctorate in Optometry. Since graduation, she has been practicing right here in Redmond. In 2004, she joined Dr. Forrey at Redmond Eye Doctors and in 2007 she took over ownership.

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