Fireworks alert: leave them to the professionals!

Fireworks alert: leave them to the professionals!


During this Fourth of July holiday, the sobering facts of fireworks eye-related and bodily injuries in our state should make people think twice before handling the devices. Please leave the fireworks to the professionals this holiday season.

According to the 2001 Illinois Society for the Prevention of Blindness Illinois Annual Fireworks Survey—compiled from data received from Illinois hospital emergency rooms, ophthalmologists and optometrists–83 percent of the eye-related injuries were children and young adults under age 20, nearly a 54 percent increase from the 2000 survey results. Sixty-five percent of those treated were males; and bottle rockets led the list in causing the most eye-related injuries.

The ISPB continues to assist and support the Illinois public safety agencies, police and fire departments in helping to educate more adults and children through videos, brochures, posters and billboards and to monitor possible transporting of illegal fireworks from neighboring states into Illinois.

Illegal fireworks in the mainstream could present substantial risks of injury resulting in vision loss, blindness, amputations, burns and even death. Because of risks for injury and the importance of fireworks safety, here are some suggestions to follow:

l Protect your eyes by wearing safety glasses or safety goggles if you are an operator of fireworks or a bystander. Wearing prescription eyeglasses, sunglasses or contact lenses provide little or no protection against eye injuries caused from fireworks.

l Collect all burned-out sparkler wires for proper disposal. Keep in mind that sparklers burn at 1800 degrees and stay hot long after burning out.

l Keep younger children away from all fireworks; older children should always be supervised if operating legal fireworks (i.e., sparklers, snakes, etc.).

l Never use homemade fireworks.

l Never extend any part of the body over lit fireworks.

l Never relight or handle malfunctioning fireworks. Soak them in water and discard them properly.

l Keep water nearby for emergencies.

l Be sure other bystanders and pets are out of range.

l Always follow directions of all local police and fire personnel.

l In case of eye injuries, do not touch, rub or press on the injured eye. Seek immediate care from an eye care professional or hospital emergency room.

James A. McKechnie, Jr., executive director of the Illinois Society for the Prevention of Blindness, reminds us that fireworks in Illinois, with the exception of sparklers, are illegal. Mr. McKechnie recommends that “if you wish to include fireworks in your festivities, please leave it to the professionals and attend local municipal public displays or watch them on TV. Don’t forget that fireworks are made of gun powder and are, therefore, volatile. Bystanders need to be especially careful, too.”

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