WISCONSINREPORT.COM (07/03/2009) - When we think of Fourth of July, of course, we think of fireworks. However, we must not forget the danger they pose to our eyes and vision. This Fourth, the Wisconsin Optometric Association (WOA) urges all citizens to use fireworks safely. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), an estimated 1,400 fireworks-related eye injuries were treated in the one month surrounding July 4, 2007, nearly 22 percent of all fireworks-related injuries during that timeframe.
Eyes are the second most commonly injured part of the body from improper use of fireworks. U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)reports that in that one month surrounding the 2007 Fourth of July contusions, lacerations and foreign bodies were the most common eye injuries. However, complete vision loss and deaths were reported as well.
Children under age 15 accounted for 42 percent of all fireworks-related injuries in the same timeframe. Believe it or not, sparklers, a favorite among children, were the highest cause of injury requiring trips to the emergency room.
“As adults and parents, we must take the reins in promoting safe use of fireworks to everyone in our party,” Dr. Brad Jorgensen, President of the Wisconsin Optometric Association, says.
While purchase and use of some consumer fireworks is legal without a permit in Wisconsin, the WOA reminds all citizens that no private use of fireworks is safe, and urges family and friends to attend fireworks displays carried out by professionals. If you do choose to use fireworks this Fourth, the WOA urges you to follow these safety guidelines:
Use protective eyewear when handling fireworks.
Keep in mind only adults should handle fireworks. Tell children that they should leave the area immediately if their friends are using fireworks.
- Never use fireworks indoors.
- Keep a bucket of water on hand in case of a malfunction or fire.
- Never try to reignite fireworks that malfunction.
- Never shoot fireworks in metal or glass containers, as these materials can explode and send shrapnel out like a bomb.
- Dispose of fireworks properly by soaking them in water and then disposing of them in your trashcan.
- If an accident does occur, minimize damage to the eye and help save a person’s sight by following these guidelines:
- Seek medical attention immediately even for seemingly mild injuries. “Mildly” damaged areas can worsen and end in serious vision loss, even blindness.
- Shield the eye from pressure. Tape or secure the bottom of a foam cup, milk carton or similar shield against the brow, cheek and bridge of the nose.
- Do NOT rub the eye or apply pressure. If any eye tissue is torn, rubbing might cause more serious damage.
- Do NOT attempt to rinse out the eye. This can be even more damaging than rubbing.
- Do NOT give aspirin or ibuprofen (or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) to try to reduce the pain. They thin the blood and might increase bleeding.
- Do NOT apply ointment or any medication. It is probably not sterile.
The Wisconsin Optometric Association (WOA) is a nonprofit affiliation of licensed doctors of optometry and associated businesses dedicated to the preservation and enhancement of the vision welfare of the people of Wisconsin.
The WOA says it accomplishes its goals through: education and dissemination of information, organized governmental activity, legislation and regulation, mediation with consumer and public interest groups, and provision of collective benefits to its members.
Approximately 650 doctors of optometry are currently members of the WOA located in nearly every county in the state. All members must be licensed to practice optometry by the State of Wisconsin.