Ah... summer has finally arrived. This month our skies are often filled with bright displays of color and light. During the Fourth of July and Pioneer Day celebrations, we tend to forget that we are lighting potentially dangerous explosive devices. In fact, thousands of people are sent to the emergency room each year due to injuries caused by fireworks.
Between June 18th and July 18th, there are an estimated 6,300 firework-related injuries and yearly over 20 percent of these are eye injuries. From contusions to corneal lacerations, from children to adults, everyone is at risk of a firework-related eye injury if proper firework safety precautions are not taken. During this year's summertime celebrations, Friends for Sight wants you to protect and preserve your vision by following some important safety tips provided by the American Academy of Ophthalmology.
- Never let children play with fireworks of any type.
- View fireworks from at least 500 feet away.
- Leave the lighting of fireworks to trained professionals.
- Respect established barriers to allow pyro-technicians to do their jobs safely.
- If you find unexploded fireworks, do not touch them – contact your local fire or police department immediately.
While we may think that it is only the big fireworks that cause problems and injury, sparklers can be especially dangerous. Each year many Utah children are burned by these seemingly harmless devices. The tip of the sparkler burns at a temperature of more than 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit, which is hot enough to cause third-degree burns. Children under the age of 12 should not use sparklers without close adult supervision. In an effort to reduce chance of injury, Friends for Sight Executive Director, Kate Edwards, advises teaching children three basic sparkler rules:
- Light one sparkler at a time.
- Hold it at arm's length from the body.
- Never wave sparklers or run while holding them.
If you do experience an eye injury during a firework accident, seek immediate medical attention.
- Do not rub the eye.
- Do not attempt to rinse out the eye.
- Do not apply pressure to the eye itself.
- Do not stop for medicine.
- Do not apply ointment.
- Do not let your child play with fireworks, even if his/her friends are setting them off.
The Utah Fire Marshall reminds us that Class "C" fireworks can only be discharged between the hours of 11 a.m. and 11 p.m. The following exceptions apply: July 1 – July 7 (July 4 hours extended to midnight) and July 21 – July 27 (July 24 hours extended to midnight). For more information on restrictions in your area visit: http://publicsafety.utah.gov/firemarshal/fireworks.html.