What would the Fourth of July be without a great fireworks display? They light up the sky and are fun to watch, and when put on by professionals they are usually safe.
But each year, thousands of American wind up in the emergency room with firework related injuries. In 2010, an estimated 6,300 spent part of the holiday in the ER, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) Fireworks Annual Report  issued in 2011.
Youth under the age of 15 accounted for approximately 40 percent of the estimated injuries, according to the report. And for children under the age of five —700 injuries in 2010 — approximately 43 percent of the injuries were from the ever-popular “sparklers.”
In fact, according to the report, so-called “safe and sane” fireworks, including sparklers, fountains and other novelties, made up 2 out of 5 injuries treated in emergency rooms.
“Fireworks are extremely dangerous,” Prevent Blindness of America, the nation’s oldest non-profit eye health and safety organization, is warning families. They recommend:
—Do not purchase, use, or store fireworks or sparklers of any type.
—Protect yourself, your family and your friends by avoiding fireworks and sparklers.
—Attend only authorized public fireworks displays conducted by licensed operators, but be aware that even professional displays can be dangerous.
There were more than 1,300 reported eye injuries in 2010. In the event of any eye-related accident, Prevent Blindness America recommends the following:
If there are specks in the eye:
—DO NOT rub the eye.
—Use an eye wash or let tears wash out specks or particles;
—Lift the upper eyelid outward and down over the lower lid;
—If the speck doesn’t wash out, keep the eye closed, bandage and see a doctor or go to the emergency room.
If the eye or eyelid is cut or punctured:
—DO NOT wash out the eye with water.
—DO NOT try to remove an object stuck in the eye.
—Cover the eye with a rigid shield without pressure. The bottom half of a paper cup may be used.
—Visit a doctor or go to the emergency room immediately.
Fireworks laws vary from city to city, and it is advisable to check your city’s website to find out if fireworks are illegal in your area, and for local public displays where fireworks can be enjoyed with greater safety. You can also check EGPNews’ 4th of July Calendar of Events in this newspaper, and on our website: EGPNews.com.
For more information on fireworks safety, please call Prevent Blindness America at (800) 331-2020 or log on to preventblindness.org.