Although celebrating July 4 with a bang might sound like the patriotic thing to do on Independence Day weekend, Massachusetts Eye and Ear physicians urge people to resist the temptation to put on their own fireworks shows.
Fireworks can cause serious injuries, including burns, lacerations, eye injuries, vision loss, dismemberment and death.
According to a study by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, there were eight deaths related to fireworks accidents in the United States in 2013 – adding to the 86 fireworks-related deaths recorded since 2000. Illegal and homemade fireworks were involved in all eight deaths.
Some 11,400 people sustained fireworks-related injuries in 2013, and 65 percent of those injuries occurred from June 21-July 21.
- The parts of the body most often injured were hands and fingers (approximately 36 percent); head, face, and ears (22 percent); eyes (16 percent); and legs (14 percent).
- More than half (62 percent) of the emergency department-treated injuries were burns, which were the most common injury to all parts of the body (except the eyes, where contusions, lacerations and foreign bodies in the eyes occurred more frequently).
- Innocent-looking sparklers caused the most damage, accounting for an estimated 2,300 emergency department-treated injuries. More than 800 visits were caused by firecrackers, while 300 were due to bottle rockets.
- Sadly, children and young adults were the most frequently affected by fireworks accidents that required emergency room treatment, with children younger than 15 years old accounting for approximately 40 percent of the estimated injuries in 2012, and individuals younger than 25 years of age comprising 59 percent of the injured.
Here’s the bottom line, according to the physicians at Massachusetts Eye and Ear: The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to leave it to the professionals. Take advantage of any professional – and often free – fireworks displays that are available this Independence Day.
Even during a professional display, never handle any fireworks that might remain. If previously ignited, fireworks can discharge and cause injuries. Children should be told not to pick up fireworks if they find them, and to tell an adult immediately.
If an eye injury occurs:
- Do not try to remove any protruding objects from the eye.
- Flush the eye with water to remove any particles that are present.
- Cover the eye loosely for comfort and seek immediate medical attention.