Jun 26, 2013 8:00 AM

Author: Majid Moshirfar, MD

July in Utah is a time for celebration: First with the Fourth of July holiday and then with the state’s annual Pioneer Day celebration later in the month.

Often, a hallmark of these holiday events —in addition to backyard barbecues, parades and time with family —are bottle rockets, sparklers and other fireworks that light up the night sky. While no one ever thinks a fireworks injury could happen to them, it’s important to practice safety to avoid fireworks-related eye injuries at holiday celebrations.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology reported this week that more than 9,000 fireworks injuries occur in the U.S. every year, including hundreds on the Fourth of July. And out of these 9,000 injuries, about 45 percent are injuries to children 15 and under. One type of firework that may seem the most harmless is a sparkler, which typically burns at 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit (more than 1,000 degrees hotter than the boiling point of water).

Eye injuries from fireworks are among the highest reported fireworks injuries, according to the academy. One in six fireworks-related eye injuries result in permanent vision loss.

These statistics may be startling, but they are preventable when keeping safety in mind. Before you light fireworks at your holiday celebration, remember to think about the following items:

• Never handle fireworks without protective eyewear and ensure that all bystanders are also wearing eye protection.

• Never let young children play with fireworks of any type. If older children are permitted to handle fireworks, ensure they are closely supervised by an adult and wear protective eyewear.

• Clear the area of flammable materials and view fireworks from at least 500 feet away.

• Leave the lighting of professional-grade fireworks to trained pyrotechnicians. 

For more fireworks safety tips visit www.geteyesmart.org. By keeping safety in mind, you can enjoy your holiday and avoid a trip to the ER for an unwanted eye injury.

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