Fireworks are a Fourth of July tradition to celebrate Independence Day, but the injuries caused by these fireworks are another, less welcome tradition of the holiday.
More than 50 percent of all fireworks-related ocular injuries occur around the Fourth of July holiday, and approximately 12,000 Americans are admitted to emergency rooms every year for fireworks-related injuries, according to the United States Eye Injury Registry (USEIR). Almost half of those injured are bystanders, and nearly 400 patients lose vision in one or both eyes because of their injuries, the USEIR reports.
Michael Grant, M.D., Ph.D., an ophthalmologist and director of the Ocular Trauma Service at The Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute, says bottle rockets are the most common fireworks to cause eye injury. "These eye injuries are generally very serious and frequently lead to a significant loss of vision and may ultimately result in loss of the eye," Grant reports. "Seventy percent of all serious fireworks-related eye injuries are caused by bottle rockets, and more than two-thirds of these injuries take place at home. The most important thing you can do to prevent injuries is to not use any fireworks of any kind at home and leave fireworks to the professionals."
Grant also offers these suggestions for a safe holiday:
- Never allow young children to play with fireworks and provide adult supervision if older children use fireworks.
- Never use bottle rockets. Approximately seventy percent of all ocular injuries are caused by bottle rockets.
- Whether you are an operator or spectator, wear safety glasses or goggles.
- Never put fireworks in glass containers, tin cans or clay pots, since these objects can shatter.
- Never use illegal or homemade fireworks.
- Always have a fire extinguisher or large container of water ready to douse any fireworks that misfire.
"In case of an injury, do not touch, rub, press or remove a foreign object from the injured eye," adds Grant. "Loosely cover the injured eye with a paper or plastic cup to prevent additional injury and seek immediate medical care from an eye care professional or hospital emergency room."