Fireworks can be a fun way to celebrate Independence Day, but too often celebrations end with injuries or a trip to the emergency room. The Consumer Product Safety Commission reported that nearly 12,000 people were treated in emergency rooms for fireworks-related injuries in the United States in 2015, and about 2,000 of those were eye injuries. Fireworks can cause eye damage through chemical or thermal burns and injuries to the eyeball, resulting in permanent vision loss.
Sidharth Puri, MD, a resident physician with UofL’s Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, was alarmed by the number of fireworks-related injuries he witnessed during his first weekend in the emergency room. He hopes to prevent injuries this year by making Louisville residents aware of the dangers posed by fireworks.
“These are not benign, safe, colorful toys. They are miniaturized explosions and they have to be treated with care. These injuries are preventable,” Puri said. “If we can reach one child or one family member and prevent a firework from going off too near their face and blinding them, that is our goal – to save at least one person’s vision.”
Puri offers the following safety tips:
- Do NOT let young children play with fireworks of any type, even sparklers.
- Always wear protective eyewear when handling fireworks and ensure that all bystanders are also wearing eye protection.
- Leave the lighting of professional-grade fireworks to trained pyrotechnicians.
If an eye injury from fireworks occurs:
- Seek medical attention immediately
- Do not rub your eyes
- Do not rinse your eyes
- Do not apply pressure
- Do not remove any objects that are stuck in the eye
- Do not apply ointments or take any blood-thinning pain medications such as aspirin or ibuprofen
Download a printable PDF file of the eye safety guide here.