As the beginning of July approaches, many families will find themselves on vacation, at a neighborhood party or family get together celebrating our country’s freedom. Often a staple of the back yard barbeques, parades, family gathering and other events are sparklers, fireworks, and other colorful explosions that light up the night. It is also a time that many individuals find themselves taking a trip to the E.R. or doctor’s office with an eye injury resulting from improper handling of fireworks and sparklers.
Many people find it increasingly easy to forget about eye care at night. With the lower levels of light the desire to have a shield in front of your eyes decreases. During the day it is easy to throw on a pair of safety sunglasses which serve a dual purpose; however protective eyewear for dark environments requires clear glasses that are much easier to overlook, as there is not an obvious irritation or danger to your eye.
On average about 9,000 eye injuries result from the use of fireworks every year. Of those injured, 45% are children under the age of 15. The most common “harmless” firework is the sparkler. In many cases these easy to light novelties are given to small children to play with. Many people either overlook, or simply do not realize sparklers burn at 1,200 degrees, which can make them dangerous to children, especially unsupervised children.
Prevention is key to avoid ending up in the E.R. during this time of celebration. There are a couple of considerations when handling fireworks this Fourth of July season.
- Do not let children play with fireworks. If you allow older children to handle fireworks make sure they are supervised.
- Never light fireworks without using protective eye wear. Ensure that bystanders are also using eye protection.
- Be sure the immediate area is clear of any debris, flammable items, or tripping hazards.
- Most importantly… leave professional-grade fireworks to trained and certified pyro technicians.
Remember as you prepare for a night of celebration this Fourth of July, to purchase safety glasses before you swing by the local fireworks outlet. It’s a time to celebrate, be sure to do it safely. Have a safe and happy 4th of July!
About the author: John D. Bissell, owner of Bissell Eye Care and Tri-State Low Vision Services, offers comprehensive eye examinations for the entire family, ocular disease detection and treatment, eye glasses, sun glasses, active wear, contact lenses, and low vision examinations for those with significant vision loss. He has undergone specialized training for treatment of low vision by the International Academy of Low Vision Specialists utilizing customized telescopic eyeglasses, prisms and telescopic implants for patients who qualify. The practice accepts most types of vision and health insurance plans.