Fireworks have become an American staple, especially when it comes to celebrations. Could you imagine the Fourth of July or New Year’s without fireworks? No, of course not!
Fireworks are a fantastical display of joy and commemoration and they can leave us with a sense of wonder and awe. As magnificent as that is, when we get down to it, fireworks are explosives. Not the kind you’ll be seeing in an action movie, but explosives no less.
We don’t want to discourage the use of fireworks, but rather encourage safe use of fireworks. A study released by the Consumer Product Safety Commission revealed that an estimated 11,400 people suffered from a firework-related injury in 2013. The number of injuries increased by 8,700 compared to the previous year.
The injury rate only continues to grow. According to another report by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, 2015 was the worst year for firework injuries in the past 15 years. With 11,900 firework-related injuries that year, 16 percent were estimated to have been eye injuries.
Fireworks are a hazard. Besides foregoing fireworks all together, the only way to safely use them is to make sure you have the proper protection.
Who’s Getting Hurt?
Believe it or not, the person handling the firework is seldom the one to sustain an injury. Children and bystanders are the ones most likely to become injured when fireworks are around.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission found that 35 percent of those injured by fireworks in 2014 were children under the age of 15. Meanwhile, an international report found that 47 percent of people hurt were bystanders.
These statistics point to an alarming realization that even those who are not actively involved in lighting the fireworks, can get hurt. For that reason, it is extremely important for everyone to wear the proper eye protection when exposed to fireworks.
Which are the Dangerous Fireworks?
In short, all fireworks are the dangerous kind. You may have already guessed that, but what makes them so dangerous? Are small fireworks just as dangerous as bigger ones?
The answer is yes. Though smaller fireworks will not cause the same damage, they can definitely cause an eye injury if handled incorrectly. A sparkler, for example, is a firework many deem safe for children to use and play with.
Of course, small does not equal safe. Sparklers can burn up to 3,000 degrees, which is hot enough to melt metals like titanium. Sparklers, though cute and tiny like children, are probably the most dangerous firework because their size is so deceiving. A sparkler to the eye can cause severe vision damage and sometimes blindness.
Other close range fireworks such as firecrackers can also cause eye injuries. Firecrackers can accidentally go off in a person’s hand, injuring their hand and face and, most likely, eyes. These small fireworks can cause the most damage to our eyes because we would never expect them to.
However, this doesn’t mean that large fireworks are off the hook. The one upside to larger fireworks is that most people are wary when engaging with them. People continue to get hurt because they aren’t protected and don’t know how to protect themselves.
The issue with many large fireworks lays in knowing if they are a duds or not. You light the firework, it goes off, then fizzles out so you head on over to it to move it to the side. Lo and behold, the firework still has some fuel and goes off again just as you bend down to pick it up.
This is a potential eye injury. The best thing to do when a firework dies out is to just leave it. Don’t touch it, don’t inspect it, just leave it until it is certainly dead.
How to Protect Your Eyes
The most obvious way to protect your eyes from fireworks is to not put yourself in a position where consumer fireworks are being used. I know that sounds like a trick answer.
What’s the best way to avoid a running injury? Don’t run!
It sounds silly, but it isn’t. See, there are other ways to enjoy fireworks without having to handle them yourselves. Professionals are hired to put on large scale firework productions during major holidays and celebrations. You don’t have to give up fireworks, but consider hanging up your consumer ones.
Now, we know not everyone will be convinced and will still want to use their own firework. All right, we understand that.
If you do insist on using your own fireworks for celebrations, make sure to protect your eyes by wearing the proper eyewear. In this case, we’d recommend either safety glasses or goggles.
Safety eyewear will protect your eyes from flying sparks and whatever other bits of firework that’s a potential risk. When choosing your eyewear, make sure the lens can resist high impact.
For children, you may want to consider goggles that’ll cover the entire eye area. Goggles will protect your child’s eyes from objects poking into them, like sparklers.
Those handling the fireworks may also want to consider goggles in lieu of glasses. However, if you’re planning to only observe the fireworks from a safe distance, safety glass will do the job just fine.
What to do in Case of Injury
If you or someone else does sustain an injury from a firework there’s one thing you need to remember: go to the emergency room.
Don’t try to remove any object from your eye, don’t rub your eye, don’t apply pressure or try to rinse it out. Calmly take a seat and have someone take you to the hospital or clinic. Only professionals are capable of treating a firework related eye injury.
There’s no reason to give up fireworks. Sure, they can be dangerous but only if we let them be. It’s up to us to stay safe when handling these festive explosives.
Keep you and your family safe by knowing the risks and take the right steps to enjoying fireworks safely. Enjoy a professionally orchestrated fireworks display or invest in the proper protective eyewear. Let’s make 2017 the lowest firework-related injury year!