Memorial Day: Eye Safety During Firework Season

The summer holidays are quickly approaching, so you know what that means: fireworks! Watching fireworks light up the sky is a fun and enjoyable experience. However, fireworks send roughly 10,500 people to the ER each year. Take care of your eyes this summer by properly handling fireworks (though we recommend leaving them to the professionals). Playing with fireworks can cause permanent eye damage to yourself and others.

Below are a few important safety tips to keep in mind during firework season.

Treat Small Fireworks Like Big Ones

Fireworks are often advertised like toys. Small fireworks, in particular, are marketed toward young children. Yet just because a firework is small does not make it safe. The classic sparkler is often handed to children, but the temperature can reach up to 2,000 degrees – enough to melt some metals.

This website offers helpful suggestions for children handling sparklers. Even with proper handling, these fireworks are hotter and more dangerous than people realize. For children under 5, sparklers account for 61% of total estimated fireworks-related injuries, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Wear Safety Glasses

Wearing safety glasses is a quick and easy way to protect your eyes when playing with fireworks. Bottle rockets, for example, are known for being sporadic and shooting into people’s eyes. It’s not a bad idea for bystanders to wear safety glasses as well. Research shows that nearly half of people injured by fireworks are bystanders.

Know How to Handle a Firework Injury

If an ocular injury does occur when lighting a firework, seek medical attention immediately. This is one situation where you don’t want to rinse, rub or apply pressure to the eye. Also, avoid using any type of ointment or creams. If something is stuck in your eye, wait for help to arrive. Poking or rubbing the eye can cause additional damage to your eyes.

Respect and Follow all Rules

Be sure to follow all of the rules on Memorial Day and Fourth of July, and set a good example for the kids. Here are some of the most important rules:

Always read the caution labels and instructions for each firework

Avoid alcohol when handling fireworks

Light fireworks in an open, clear area away from buildings and cars

Keep bystanders at least 500 feet away

Stay away from M-class fireworks (these are explosives)

Respect all barriers

Never Relight a Dud

When a firework doesn’t go off, some people assume it’s a dud and then attempt to relight it. This is a dangerous mistake that can cause permanent blindness. The firework may still be hot and/or active. Instead, wait 20 minutes, then soak the dud in a bucket of water. For this reason, always keep a bucket of water or a hose nearby when lighting off fireworks.

Empire Retina Consultants wishes everyone a safe and happy Memorial Day!