OKLAHOMA CITY – July Fourth is nearly here and many Oklahomans are making plans to see fireworks displays. Have fun, say doctors with the Oklahoma Association of Optometric Physicians (OAOP), but leave the fireworks to the professionals.
“We want everyone to have a fun celebration,” said OAOP President Dr. Selina McGee, in a press release sent to The City Sentinel and other news organizations.
“However, decades of experience show that fireworks are best left to professional firework handlers. Many of the injuries we see from fireworks are to the eyes, and all of them are preventable.”
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, at least eight fireworks-related deaths were reported in 2017. An estimated 12,900 injuries due to fireworks were treated in hospital emergency rooms, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say. Of those, most injuries were from sparklers, but firecrackers and bottle rockets also were to blame. More than a third (36 percent) of the injuries were to children 15 years of age and under.
To help prevent eye injuries during fireworks season, the OAOP recommends the following tips to help protect and preserve eyesight during the Fourth of July holiday:
- Discuss fireworks safety with children and teens prior to the Fourth of July holiday.
- Do not allow kids to handle fireworks, and never leave them unsupervised near fireworks.
- Wear protective eyewear when lighting and handling fireworks of any kind.
- Store fireworks, matches and lighters in a secure place where children won’t find them.
- Refrain from purchasing sparklers. Heating up to 2,000 degrees or hotter, sparklers are the No. 1 cause of firework injuries requiring trips to the emergency room.
- Be aware of your surroundings and only light fireworks when family, friends and children are at a safe distance.
“If an eye injury occurs, immediately seek medical attention from your local doctor of optometry or the nearest emergency room,” said Dr. McGee. “Refrain from rubbing your eyes or applying pressure. Don’t attempt to remove any objects that may be stuck in the eye, and avoid taking pain medications such as ibuprofen or aspirin that may thin the blood.”