As someone who loves the United States, I am looking forward to the pageantry, parades and fireworks that accompany its annual anniversary celebration.
But as a father and an ophthalmologist, I am not looking forward to the inevitable and tragic news stories that are inevitable in the wake of the holiday; every year there are far too many accounts of people—primarily children—who sustain severe injuries from the pyrotechnics associated with the holiday.
If you are considering purchasing fireworks or firecrackers to celebrate the Fourth of July, I have two words for you: Please don’t.
According to Prevent Blindness America, a leading volunteer eye health and safety organization, fireworks were implicated in an estimated 9,800 injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms in 2007 (the latest year for which the organization had data). About two-thirds of those injuries were sustained in the one-month period surrounding the July 4th holiday, and some 1,500 of those injuries were to the eye.
Pyrotechnics don’t have to blow up to be dangerous. “Sparklers” seem fairly benign, at least in comparison to many other types or fireworks or firecrackers, but they burn at 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit and can cause severe burns. The absolute last thing you want to do is put these devices into the hands of children or let children near them; nevertheless, the Consumer Product Safety Administration reported that during a recent July 4th holiday period, sparklers accounted for one-third of the fireworks injuries to children less than five years of age.
So, to protect your eyes and the eyes of the people you love, I urge you follow this great advice from Prevent Blindness America:
- Do not purchase, use or store fireworks or sparklers of any type
- Protect yourself, your family and your friends by avoiding fireworks and sparklers
- Attend only authorized public fireworks displays conducted by licensed operators, but be aware that even professional displays can be dangerous
I wish you and your family can a fun, memorable and very safe July 4th holiday!