10,000 Reasons to Leave Fireworks to the Professionals
Every year, about 10,000 people are rushed to the emergency department for fireworks injuries. 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, retinas, and ruptured eyeballs. Many people believe that consumer fireworks are safe. But here’s the explosive truth: Most injuries are caused by fireworks parents buy for their children, such as sparklers, firecrackers, bottle rockets, and Roman candles. To help reduce the number of potentially blinding fireworks accidents this holiday, UCLA Stein Eye and Doheny Eye Institutes and the American Academy of Ophthalmology are sharing these tips:
- Wear protective eyewear when igniting fireworks: Ophthalmologists recommend that every household have at least one pair of ANSI-approved protective eyewear. Stop by any hardware store and pick up some safety glasses for the entire family.
- Don’t pick up duds and misfires: A “dud” can explode and blast hot debris into the eye, causing severe damage to the cornea. Keep a hose and buckets of water on hand for duds and misfires. Soak the dud from a distance with a hose or a bucket of water. Pick it up with a shovel and fully submerge it in a bucket of water to ensure it’s safe for disposal.
- Keep a safe distance: Bystanders are injured by fireworks as often as the operator.
- Supervise children closely: Sparklers seem like harmless fun for the kids, but they are responsible for about 1,400 eye injuries each year. Even those tiny poppers or snappers can pose dangers and could potentially burn parts of the eye and eyelid.
- Celebrate with the pros: 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 eye 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
For more information about eye safety or to find an ophthalmologist near you, visit uclahealth.org/eye.