Keep Fourth of July celebrations safe

Holiday celebrations are just not the same without spectacular fireworks displays. Yet, decades of experience show that fireworks are best left to professional firework handlers. People who play with fireworks are setting themselves up for injury. In fact, every Fourth of July, thousands of individuals are seen in emergency rooms, with an estimated 14% –roughly 1,200 – of the incidents are injuries to the eyes.

Children age 15 and younger are especially at risk, accounting for more than 50 percent of all fireworks injuries in the U.S. It’s important to discuss firework safety with children before the holiday and never let them around fireworks unsupervised.

Firecrackers, bottle rockets and Roman candles cause about two-thirds of eye injuries. Bottle rockets are very dangerous because they can shower fragments of glass and metal in all directions. Contusions and lacerations, including foreign bodies lodged into the eyes, account for most eye injuries. Seemingly harmless sparklers account for three-quarters of injuries among children under the age of five. “Sparklers are the No. 1 cause of firework injuries requiring trips to the emergency room.”

Fireworks statistics show:

n The highest injury estimates were for firecrackers (26%), rockets (21%) and sparklers (11%).

n Sparklers can heat up to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit or hotter, hot enough to melt gold.

These injuries are preventable. Attend local public fireworks displays instead of using fireworks at home. “One of the reasons fireworks injuries continue to occur is because people don’t understand how dangerous these devices can be. As many as 400 Americans lose vision in one or both eyes due to fireworks injuries.”

If an eye injury does occur, seek immediate medical attention from your local optometrist or the emergency room. Avoid rubbing or applying pressure to the eye and do not attempt to remove any foreign objects that may be stuck in the eye.

Play it safe. Losing your sight or a finger is a high price to pay for a few minutes of fun. Celebrate holidays by attending Laramie’s professionally conducted fireworks event, Fire in the Sky, on Wednesday at 10 p.m. Sit back and enjoy the show!!

Sincerely,

Drs. Sue Lowe, Gary Poteet and Amy Aldrich, Snowy Range Vision Center, Laramie

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