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Kids' Eyes at Risk from Fireworks Tomfoolery

Don't let your child's eyesight become a casualty of mishandled fireworks—follow these tips from eye doctors.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology provided the following release to Patch:

The Fourth of July is drawing near and barbecue preparations are underway. Fireworks are a traditional part of Independence Day celebrations, but they can also be dangerous. Sadly, children and teens are too often hurt by fireworks.

So, before the celebration begins, get your EyeSmart fireworks safety tips from the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

Of the 9,000 fireworks-related injuries each year, 21 percent are eye injuries and more than half of the victims are young children or teenagers. For example:

  • A 6-year-old child’s eye was severely injured after he lit an M-80 firework that he found in his home. He called 911 and underwent an immediate cornea transplant and lens replacement, and required several additional eye surgeries.
  • A 12-year-old boy forgot to unwrap the fuse of a fountain firework, making the fuse too short. It exploded almost immediately and blew up in his face, seriously injuring his eye.
  • After a man lit smoke bombs that created colored smoke, his 4-year-old son leaned in to get a closer look. Tar from the smoke bomb wick shot into the boy’s eye, causing a corneal abrasion.

“Many Americans get caught up in the excitement of the Fourth of July, and forget that fireworks are also dangerous explosives,” said Dr. Monica L. Monica, an ophthalmologist and clinical correspondent for the American Academy of Ophthalmology. “The safest choice is to attend a professional fireworks display, and make it a point to supervise children at all times.”

Even sparklers are dangerous. Sparklers typically burn at 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit and cause 27 percent of all fireworks injuries, including third-degree burns.

Bottle rockets cause some of the most serious eye injuries. Errant bottle rockets can injure bystanders and cause eyelid lacerations, corneal abrasions, retinal detachment, optic nerve damage, rupture of the eyeball, and complete blindness. One in every six fireworks-related eye injuries results in permanent vision loss or blindness.

To prevent eye injuries, follow these EyeSmart tips:

  • Never let children play with fireworks of any type.
  • View fireworks from at least 500 feet away.
  • Leave the lighting of fireworks to trained professionals.
  • Respect safety barriers set up to allow pyrotechnicians to do their jobs safely.
  • If you find unexploded fireworks, do not touch them. Immediately contact your local fire or police departments.

If you experience an eye injury during a fireworks accident, seek immediate medical help. For more fireworks safety tips or to find an eye doctor in your area, visit geteyesmart.org.

Paul J. DiBartolo July 02, 2012 at 12:40 AM
Well Dudley, I notice you don't' mind bending the facts a little when it will suit your argument either. Would it be safe to say that your response to the facts might be, "Details, details, who needs them?" "Items defined as “ground and hand-held sparkling devices”, “novelties” and “toy caps” in American Pyrotechnics Association (APA) Standard 87-1 are not currently regulated by State Law; therefore, their sale and use are permissible." "Pennsylvania residents: May purchase Consumer Fireworks only with a display permit issued by the municipality wherein the display will take place." Yes, you are correct here: "Non-residents: An amendment to the Fireworks Law, effective November 30, 2004, makes it legal, upon proof of out-of-state residency status, to purchase Consumer Fireworks from a facility licensed by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture provided the Consumer Fireworks are transported directly out of state by the seller or purchaser." Interesting that PA would say, we don't want you doing it here but we will sell you this stuff to take over to NJ where it's illegal as long as you set them off over there...you know, where it's illegal. This just points out all the hypocrisy in the law when the goon squads try to regulate every thing we do. "Do this, don't do that, can't you read the sign?" (thanks to the Five Man Electrical Band)
ALEX July 02, 2012 at 02:26 AM
paul, i know you didn't suggest that my house would catch fire from legal township fireworks, and i DID address what you said, however, it seems as though you are not picking up my response, because, evidently you are not reading closely enough. i am not using ALL the wording that you are, as i thought you were intelligent enough to gleen what i was saying without spelling every detail out. don't worry paul, i am UP to that herculean effort in every way!!!! and please, do not be so condescending as to refer to my pet as having the name "fido". that is not his name, do not pretend to know his name, or suggest that his name is fido. just for the record, i DO NOT MEDICATE MY PET, WHOM, I CONSIDER A MEMBER OF MY FAMILY, I MIGHT ADD!!! one more thing, i am NOT going to go back and forth with you as you seem to want everyone to do. yes, terrible things happen even when fireworks are used under legal, controlled, situations. that is why i even stay away from those, (except at disneyworld where i know i can be far enough away from being injured). i said what i had to say and i am finished. no need for you to respond, as i am off of here after this and will not see it. i have other matters to attend to. i have spent enough time on this. goodnight, and goodbye.
ALEX July 02, 2012 at 02:39 AM
*glean..... so sorry for the typo that caused a spelling error. goodbye
Paul J. DiBartolo July 02, 2012 at 11:54 AM
I know Judy is not reading this anymore because she's got more important things to do. For anyone else still reading I'd ask why they thought she got on here to begin with if she didn't want to defend her comments? All I'm looking for is a little continuity in what people write here. If I read something that sounds off I go after the explanation. This whole idea of, "I've said my piece whether it makes sense or not and I refuse to explain myself," is beyond my comprehension. If nothing else, this just continues to prove to me that some people take themselves way too seriously. For some reason Judy didn't think I had enough on the ball to read between the lines of what she wrote but forgot to look at herself in the mirror before she suggested that. Hello, is there anybody out there that couldn't recognize that the name "Fido" is a generic name for a dog and not to be taken seriously? Nor was I serious about a dog taking nerve pills. Lighten up, Judy.
Vinny T July 05, 2012 at 03:39 PM
Lol this judy chick is hilarious lol. Makes me wanna go shoot off these leftover roman candles right on her front lawn. "waaah waaah I can't handle those punks using fireworks waaah waaah call the police, sue everyone waaah waaah!". Thats what you sound like judy, a big crybaby. Its just a little fireworks. Get a life, Shut up and stop complaining

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