Fun, Fourth & Fireworks! | July 2012 | Dr. Price Kloess

 vulcan fireworks
Hope your summer, sizzling as it may be, is going well.
I must confess, I am a bit of a pyromaniac.  I love fire and fireworks.  As a kid I was always the one who started the fire when camping [almost burned a house down one time…who knew it was going to get windy??? …hope my parents aren’t reading this:)].   I probably hold some type of Guiness world record for creative ways to launch bottle rockets.  As an adult I now shudder to think of the stupid things we did with fireworks…and as an ophthalmologist who has taken care of countless fireworks related eye injuries, I now see how vast this problem can be.
So, my goal is not to rain on your July 4th fireworks parade, but to cause you to think before lighting that firecracker or sparkler by sharing some important facts about seemingly innocent fireworks that are readily available to the public.
 Each Fourth of July, thousands of people are injured from using consumer fireworks. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 9,000 fireworks-related injuries happen each year with the majority of these injuries affecting the eye.  One-fourth of fireworks eye injuries result in permanent vision loss or blindness.
July is Fireworks Eye Safety Awareness Month, and through its EyeSmart™ campaign the American Academy of Ophthalmology wants to remind consumers to leave fireworks to professionals. Too many Fourth of July celebrations are ruined because a child has to be rushed to the emergency room after a fireworks accident. Potentially blinding injuries can be avoided if families attend a professional public fireworks display instead of putting on a home fireworks display.
Children are the most common victims of firework accidents, with those fifteen years old or younger accounting for half of all fireworks eye injuries in the United States. For children under the age of five, seemingly “safe” sparklers account for one-third of all fireworks injuries. Sparklers can burn at nearly 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, which is hot enough to cause a third-degree burn.
Among the most serious injuries are abrupt trauma to the eye from bottle rockets.  The rockets fly erratically, often injuring bystanders. Injuries from bottle rockets can include eye lid lacerations, corneal abrasions, traumatic cataract, retinal detachment, optic nerve damage, rupture of the eyeball, eye muscle damage, and complete blindness.
For a safe and healthy Independence Day celebration, the Academy urges observance of the following tips:
  • Never let children play with fireworks of any type.
  • View fireworks from a safe distance: at least 500 feet away, or up to a quarter of a mile for best viewing.
  • Respect safety barriers set up to allow pyrotechnicians to do their jobs safely.
  • Leave the lighting of fireworks to trained professionals.
  • Follow directives given by event ushers or public safety personnel.
  • If you find unexploded fireworks remains, do not touch them. Immediately contact your local fire or police departments.
  • If you get an eye injury from fireworks, seek medical help immediately.

So…on this Friday before one of our favorite holidays, everyone at the Alabama Vision Center wishes all of you a safe, restful, fun-filled 4th of July…and find a good fireworks show and enjoy it!
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