Keep Your Eyes Protected This 4th of July

July 2, 2014 (Scottsdale, AZ)

It’s been said, “the eyes are the windows of the soul.”

Our eyes are important to protect no matter whether we are working outside, playing sports or just out enjoying the sunshine.

Especially as Independence Day approaches, we look forward to taking in a fireworks show.  When it comes to safety, the best way to enjoy these spectacular displays is to leave them to the professionals who set off those pyrotechnics.

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology the best way to avoid a potentially blinding fireworks injury is by attending a professional public fireworks show rather than purchasing fireworks for home use.

To highlight National Eye Safety Awareness, this week, let’s look at some facts.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that in 2013, eight people died in a fireworks related accident. More than 11,000 others were injured.

Ophthalmologists say this is the time of year they see an uptick in fireworks-related eye injuries.

In 2005, a study was undertaken to look at eye injury reports seen nationwide in emergency rooms. During the period of the study almost 1,000 injuries were reported and the numbers were compared to a similar study reported in 2004.

  • Eighty-eight percent of the almost 1,000 eye injuries were accidental. The number of injuries from assaults fell almost 35 percent from the 2004 snapshot.
  • Almost 70 percent of the injured people were not wearing protective eyewear, and most doctors felt that the eyewear would have prevented the injury.
  • Fifty-two percent of the injured were between ages 18 and 45, with almost 30 percent between 30 and 40.
  • Forty-two percent of the injuries occurred at home, with 47 percent between noon and 6 pm.

Kids: Don’t try this at home!

The danger of setting off fireworks yourself is too great a risk.

Prevent Blindness America reminds us that during National Fireworks Safety Month that injuries from fireworks accidents can affect us for the rest of our lives.

Children are especially prone to fireworks accidents. There is a great temptation for them to tag along with the rest of the neighborhood kids and set off firecrackers, smoke bombs, sparkling geysers and more. It’s not just the person lighting the fireworks who are risking injury but bystanders as well.

Some people may be tempted to pick up some sparklers from the local fireworks stand, but the National Council on Fireworks Safety urges all consumers to practice safe and responsible use of fireworks during Fourth of July festivities.

Explosions close to the eyes can cause severe injuries and/or blindness. The American Academy of Ophthalmology says that if an eye injury does occur people should not rub or rinse the eyes. Instead go straight to a doctor.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, there were an estimated 8,700 consumers treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms for fireworks-related injuries in 2012 and of those injuries 600 hundred were to the eyes. The CPSC’s annual report says 60 percent of all fireworks injuries occur during the 30 days surrounding the July 4th holiday.

Most injuries are associated with fireworks that malfunctioned or used improperly. Fireworks can travel in unexpected flight path and drop dangerous debris. Lighting a firework too close to a person or while holding them or playing with lit or used fireworks is an accident waiting to happen.

Is there such thing as “safe” fireworks?

Not even sparklers or small fireworks are considered safe at all. The CPSC report shows that about 1,000 reported injuries in 2012 involved bottle rockets and sparklers. According to the CPSC’s report, sparklers and bottle rockets combined caused 24 percent of fireworks-related injuries and 23 percent were caused by firecrackers.

Prevent Blindness America offers some tips to prevent fireworks-related injuries. First on the list is to not purchase, use or store fireworks of any type. Also be aware that sparklers are dangerous and cause of half of fireworks injuries in children 14 and younger. They recommend attending only authorized public fireworks displays which are conducted by licensed operators. But they warn that injuries can still occur at those types of displays.

Prevent Blindness America is the nation’s leading volunteer eye health and safety organization. Founded in 1908, it is dedicated to fighting blindness and saving site.

Angel MedFlight joins Prevent Blindness and The National Council on Fireworks Safety in urging all Americans to follow common sense safety rules this Fourth of July in their holiday celebrations.

Always rememer:

  • Parents and caretakers should always closely supervise teens if they are using fireworks.
  • Parents should not allow young children to handle or use fireworks.
  • Fireworks should only be used outdoors.
  • Always have water ready if you are using fireworks.
  • Know your fireworks; Read the caution label before igniting.
  • Obey local laws. If fireworks are not legal where you live, do not use them.
  • Alcohol and fireworks do not mix. Save your alcohol for after the show.
  • Wear safety glasses whenever using fireworks.
  • Only light one firework at a time.
  • Never relight a “dud” firework.  Wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water.
  • Avoid using homemade fireworks or illegal explosives: They can kill you!
  • Report illegal explosives, like M-80s and quarter sticks, to the fire or police department.
  • Lastly, soak spent fireworks with water before placing them in an outdoor, fire resistant garbage can away from buildings and flammable materials.

Angel MedFlight Worldwide Air Ambulance wants everyone to have a safe holiday and to remember that the safest way to enjoy a fireworks display is to view one managed by trained and licensed professionals.

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