Keeping your Family Safe on the Fourth

From 1776 to present day, July 4th has been celebrated as the birth of American independence. Americans traditionally celebrate with festivities ranging from parades, concerts, barbecues and that’s right… FIREWORKS! It may not be surprising, but many Americans each year suffer from firework-related eye injuries. These injuries range from chemical burns, corneal abrasions, globe ruptures, and many more!

20 May 1999 — Independence Day parade — Image by © Ariel Skelley/CORBIS

In the 2015 Firework Injury Report it is estimated that 11,900 injuries are treated at the emergency department due to fireworks in the month of July. Out of these injuries, 1,300 (16%) are eye related. One third of these injuries result in permanent eye damage and ¼ result in partial or total blindness.  Those most affected are children under the age of fifteen. Many of those emergency visits are involving bystanders, not even those setting off the fireworks themselves!

Ultimately, the best way to avoid any danger is to attend a professional public firework show and make sure to respect the barriers in place. Never let young children play with fireworks by themselves, including sparklers. Those handling fireworks should be cautioned and wear protective eyewear.

In the case of an emergency, it is important to remain calm and seek medical attention as soon as possible. Do not rub, rinse or apply any pressure to the eye. Also, avoid putting anything into the eye, including eye wash. If you have a foam cup available, use it to cover the eye in order to protect it from any further damage.

These simple safety precautions should be followed closely in order to prevent any eye injury. Make sure to know and understand the treatment protocols to minimize further damage. Remember that celebrating our Nation’s Independence Day should not involve a trip to the emergency room.

Happy July 4th!

Dr. Olivares