On Independence Day, we gather to celebrate the United States through parades, barbecue, and, of course, fireworks. Unfortunately, while fireworks feel like an integral element of 4th of July festivities, they’re incredibly dangerous. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that fireworks prompted over 7,600 emergency room visits during the weeks preceding and following the 4th of July in 2016. An estimated 9 percent of these visits occurred due to eye injuries.
The good news? It’s possible to make the most of this beloved holiday while keeping your eyes safe. Read on to learn how.
Stick to Professional Shows
Professional fireworks conducted by licensed operators cause minimal damage — especially if you stand a safe distance away. Ideally, you should remain at least 500 feet away from professional displays. If you observe the show from a designated area or stay behind the barriers, you should be good to go.
The real culprit behind 4th of July injuries: consumer fireworks. Firecrackers and sparklers might be legal in your state, but that doesn’t mean you should use them. When in doubt, leave fireworks to the professionals.
Using Personal Fireworks Safely
If you’re bound and determined to stage your own fireworks display, take caution. First and foremost: use protective eyewear approved by the American National Standards Institute. Bystanders — especially children — should also use approved eyewear.
As you experiment with fireworks, follow these guidelines:
- Don’t relight ‘dud’ fireworks that failed on your first try.
- Don’t point fireworks at other people.
- Stick to using one sparkler at a time.
- Children should never use fireworks without adult supervision — and ideally, young children will not use fireworks at all.
- Never use fireworks under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
If a fireworks-related eye injury strikes, seek medical attention as soon as possible. Resist the temptation to rub or rinse your eyes. Avoid ointments and blood-thinning substances such as ibuprofen.
The last thing you need this 4th of July is a trip to the ER. A little caution will ensure a fun — and safe — holiday.