July Fourth is nearly here and business at fireworks stands across the country is booming. Have fun, the New Jersey Society of Optometric Physicians (NJSOP) say, but leave the fireworks to the professionals.
“We want everyone to have a fun celebration,” says Dr. Susan D’Emic, president of NJSOP. “However, decades of experience show that fireworks are best left to professional firework handlers. These injuries are preventable.”
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, at least five fireworks-related deaths were reported in 2018. An estimated 9,100 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. More than a third (36%) of the injuries were to children 15 years of age and under. Most of the injuries involved hands and fingers, the head (including face, eyes, and ears), legs and arms.
To help prevent eye injuries during fireworks season, the NJSOP 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 Dr. D’Emic. “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.”
The New Jersey Society of Optometric Physicians is dedicated to the improvement of quality, availability, and accessibility of eye and vision care. The NJSOP represents the optometric profession before the New Jersey Legislature, the consumer and the public. It also assists its members in conducting their practices successfully in accordance with the highest ethical standards of patient care and efficiency. To learn more, visit www.njsop.org.