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[dropcap size=small]F[/dropcap]ireworks might seem like a fun way to celebrate our nation’s birthday, yet every year they send thousands to local emergency departments or urgent care centers.

In fact, the 4th of July holiday is one of the busiest days of the year for eye surgeons and others who treat victims of accidental trauma. Below are some statistics:

  • 8,500 fireworks-related injuries are reported every year in the U.S. Of these, about 2,000 are eye injuries
  • About 1 out of 3 of those result in permanent eye damage
  • About  1 out of 4 of those result in permanent vision loss or blindness
  • 25 percent of eye injuries caused by consumer fireworks occur to bystanders
  • 75 percent of fireworks-related eye injuries occur to boys between 13- and 15-years-old

“The most dangerous kind of firework are bottle rockets because they fly erratically, often causing bystander injuries. Additionally, the bottles and cans used to launch bottle rockets often explode, showering fragments of glass and metal,” said Ross Tobleman, MD, emergency medical director at Baylor Scott & White – Round Rock emergency department. 

“The most common firework injury for preschoolers involves sparklers and burns. While most adults view sparklers as the most harmless of fireworks, in reality these sticks of fire can burn as hot as 1,800 degrees,” warned Dr. Tobleman.

The best advice for anyone considering consumer fireworks as part of their holiday celebration: Fireworks are best enjoyed at a community display, not in your backyard.

Additional tips from ophthalmologists and emergency room physicians include:

  • Never let children play with exploding fireworks and rockets
  • Children playing with sparklers should be supervised closely
  • View public fireworks displays from at least 500 feet, or up to a quarter of a mile away
  • Respect the safety barriers set up to allow pyro-technicians to do their jobs safely
  • Leave the lighting of fireworks to trained professionals
  • If you find unexploded fireworks, don’t touch them. Contact your local fire or police department

“Remember, fireworks injuries are devastating yet preventable. Make it a safe Independence Day for everyone by enjoying fireworks set up by professionals,” said Dr. Tobleman.

For more information visit Baylor Scott & White. 

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