No fireworks are safe, even the innocent sparkler causes thousands of eye injuries
Fireworks injuries cause approximately 10,000 visits to the emergency department each year, most of them involve children who suffer thousands of eye injuries.1 Though the most disabling injuries occur with illegal firecrackers, most injuries are caused by legal fireworks parents buy for their children, such as sparklers, firecrackers, bottle rockets, and Roman candles.
Every year, ophthalmologists – physicians who specialize in medical and surgical eye care – treat thousands of patients who suffer a range of fireworks-related injuries, from cuts and bruises to damaged corneas and ruptured eyeballs. To help reduce the number of potentially blinding fireworks accidents this holiday, the UCLA Stein Eye and Doheny Eye Institutes join the American Academy of Ophthalmology in working to debunk common myths about fireworks injuries.
Here are five fireworks myths, debunked:
- Sparklers are safe for young children. Sparklers burn at 2000 degrees, hot enough to melt some metals. In 2014, Sparklers were responsible for most of the injuries to children age 5 and younger according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
- It is safer to view fireworks than it is to light or throw them. Bystanders are injured by fireworks as often as the operators.
- Consumer fireworks are safe. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, sparklers and firecrackers each account for 1,400 injuries to the eyes.
- It is safe to pick up a firework after it has been lit. Never try to re-light fireworks that have not worked properly. Even though it looks like a dud, it may not act like one.
- It’s not the Fourth of July without consumer fireworks. The Fourth can be complete without using consumer fireworks. The safest way to view fireworks is to watch a professional show.
If you experience a fireworks injury, ophthalmologists urge you to minimize the damage to the eye:
- Seek medical attention immediately.
- Do not rub the eye. 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.
To learn how to keep your eyes healthy or to find an ophthalmologist near you, visit uclahealth.org/eye.