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According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, at least four fireworks-related deaths were reported in 2016. An estimated 11,100 injuries due to fireworks were treated in hospital emergency rooms, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say. Of those, most injuries were from firecrackers, but sparklers and bottle rockets also were to blame. About one third of the injuries were to children 15 years of age and under.
An estimated 9 percent of the injuries were to the eyes-including contusions, lacerations and foreign bodies. Most injuries, about 33 percent, were to hands and fingers.
To help prevent eye injuries during fireworks season, the American Optometric Association (AOA) recommends the following tips to help protect and preserve eyesight during the Fourth of July holiday:
- Discuss fireworks safety with children and teens prior to the Fourth of July holiday.
- Do not allow kids to handle fireworks, and never leave them unsupervised near fireworks.
- Wear protective eyewear when lighting and handling fireworks of any kind.
- Store fireworks, matches and lighters in a secure place where children won’t find them.
- Refrain from purchasing sparklers. Heating up to 2,000 degrees or hotter, sparklers are the No. 1 cause of firework injuries requiring trips to the emergency room.
- Be aware of your surroundings and only light fireworks when family, friends and children are at a safe distance.
“If an eye injury occurs, immediately seek medical attention from your local doctor of optometry or the nearest emergency room,” says Bradley Lane, O.D., who practices in West Virginia and is a member of the AOA’s Health Promotions Committee. “They should refrain from rubbing their eyes or applying pressure. Don’t attempt to remove any objects that may be stuck in the eye, and avoid taking pain medications such as ibuprofen or aspirin that may thin the blood.”