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Jul 1, 2014
09:50 AM

Avoiding Eye Injuries From Home Fireworks on Fourth of July

There's been an increase in wounds caused by sparklers, firecrackers and other yard-use fireworks. How can you protect your family this Independence Day?

Avoiding Eye Injuries From Home Fireworks on Fourth of July

Backyard fireworks are a fun way to celebrate the Fourth of July. But while those pretty displays are exciting to watch with your family, lighting them off can pose serious dangers – especially to your eyeballs.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that in 2013, the number of injuries caused by fireworks spiked, with injuries growing to 11,400 from 8,700 the year previous. Most of those injuries happened in the month surrounding the holiday, CPSC reports. After conducting its fireworks study, the group's findings showed kids 0-14 made up 40 percent of those hurt last year.

And one of the top most-injured body parts? Eyes – checking in at 16 percent of all injuries. While it's important to protect all body parts when lighting off fireworks, have you ever thought about guarding your eyes?

If not, now's the time. The American Optometric Association and Michigan Optometric Association are advising families to take caution and wear protective eyewear this holiday season.

Dr. Barbara Horn of ExpertEyes in Washington Township, who is a past president of the MOA and currently on the AOA's board of trustees, says, "We definitely do see these injuries every year." Sometimes they're severe, but many times it's for debris flying into the eye.

In addition to wearing protective eyewear, like safety goggles or glasses, while lighting off fireworks, Horn suggests families stay out of the range of debris, and don't look inside of the firework to see if it lit or has launched.

Education is a big factor in keeping your family's eyes safe. "Children should understand the dangers of fireworks," she says. The CPSC found sparklers cause a majority of fireworks injuries, so beware. "The sparklers are probably the most dangerous, because those are handled mostly by children." The AOA and MOA warn they can reach temperatures of more than 2,000 degrees.

If your child does get something in her eye due to a firework, "immediately flush the eye with water or a saline solution," Horn says.

Then, "Call your optometrist immediately and let them know what happened – and then go to your optometrist," she recommends. Even if you flushed the eye, Horn explains, there could be debris stuck under the eyelid or an abrasion on the eye, so It's important to get it checked by a professional – and Horn says calling the optometrist ASAP can be quicker than going to the emergency room.

For more tips on firework safety and how to keep your family safe, visit the CPSC's special fireworks safety website.

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