Fireworks and celebration go together, especially during New Year’s Eve, but thousands of people suffer injuries from fireworks each year in the United States. According to the most recent Fireworks Injury Report from the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, 11,900 injuries related to fireworks were treated in the emergency room in 2015. 1900 of those injuries were eye related. In the most severe cases, fireworks can cause chemical burns, retinal detachment, or even penetrate through the eye – all of which can permanently cause eye damage and loss of vision.
The most common culprit is the sparkler. Most people think sparklers are harmless due to their size. However they can reach temperatures of up to 2000 degrees! Those injured by fireworks are not necessarily handling the explosives themselves. In fact, nearly half of people injured are bystanders. So just because you’re not lighting it does not mean you’re out of the firing line – bottle rockets are known to especially fly in unpredictable directions.
The best way to prevent an injury is by attending a professional fireworks show rather than purchasing fireworks for home use. For those who attend a professional display, make sure you respect safety barriers and view fireworks from at least 500 feet away. For those who decide to purchase consumer fireworks, follow these safety tips: never let young children play with fireworks of any kind; people who handle fireworks and bystanders should wear protective eyewear; do not touch or inspect unexploded fireworks; leave professional grade fireworks to the experts.
If an eye injury from fireworks occurs, seek medical attention from an ophthalmologist right away. Have a happy and safe New Year’s Eve!