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Play it Safe This July


Kids are running through sprinklers, teens are hanging out in front of the slushy shack, and the smell of barbeques is in the air. Summer is here, and Fourth of July celebrations complete with fireworks are on the way.

While fireworks bring an element of excitement to our national holiday, they're also a top safety concern for your eyesight. Almost 20 percent of all firework-related injuries are to the eyes, says John A. Moran Eye Center ophthalmologist Brian Zaugg, MD.

"It's not just the big fireworks that you need to worry about," says Dr. Zaugg. "Sparklers burn at about 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. That's as hot as a blow torch."

Dr. Zaugg gives the following tips for having a memorable holiday and staying safe:

Zaugg's Tips to Prevent an Injury

  • Anyone lighting fireworks should have eye protection—this includes children playing with sparklers. In fact, children under five should never play with sparklers.
  • Adult supervision is always a must, and kids should never light their own fireworks.
  • Never point a firework at another person.
  • Leave the professional-grade fireworks to trained pyrotechnicians.

Accidents Happen

Even if you are playing it safe, accidents can happen. Many times, it's not even the person lighting the fireworks who gets hurt. Bystanders, often children, are at high risk, too.

"In these situations, part of the problem is that most people don't know what to do if an eye gets injured—it's not always intuitive," says Dr. Zaugg. "Eyes are delicate and need to be treated in a specific way."

How to Handle a Fireworks Eye Injury

  • Get medical attention immediately.
  • No touching, rubbing, or pressure on the injured eye.
  • If hot ash falls in your eye, rinse it with water. But if the eye is hit with a high velocity projectile, hands off.
  • Do not remove any objects stuck in the eye.
  • Shield the injured eye. The bottom of a paper cup taped to the bones around the eye will work until you can get to a medical professional.
  • Do not take aspirin or ibuprofen. These are blood thinners and can make things worse.

Summer is for fun, not trips to the emergency room. So take some precautions while you enjoy the show.