Summer is synonymous with barbecues, parades and fireworks. But along with the festivities are plenty of visits to emergency rooms due to fireworks accidents.

June is Fireworks Eye Safety Month and protecting children from the dangers of fireworks should be a top priority for every parent. Over 10,000 fireworks injuries requiring an emergency room visit occur annually. 

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), fireworks incidents caused nearly 1,300 eye-related injuries to Americans in 2018. Children are frequent victims, with 35% sustaining fireworks injuries under the age of 15.

Though the most disabling injuries occur with illegal firecrackers, most injuries are caused by legal fireworks parents buy for their children, including sparklers, firecrackers, bottle rockets and Roman candles.

  Note to parents of young children: Sparklers burn at 1800 degrees, hot enough to melt some metals. Sparklers were responsible for most of the injuries to children age five and younger.

Eye injuries can be very serious and possibly blinding. Many of these injuries occur to bystanders. The best prevention is simply to avoid using fireworks and attend a professional light show instead. And, of course, never let your child handle fireworks of any type, even sparklers.

For those who do handle fireworks, the CPSC estimates that 90 percent of all eye injuries can be prevented through use of suitable protective eyewear.

In the event an eye injury occurs, seek medical help right away. Avoid rubbing or rinsing the eye, and refrain from applying pressure to the eye or any type of ointment.

Playing with fireworks can blind you or your loved ones. That’s why it’s important to avoid consumer fireworks altogether and leave it to the professionals this summer!

Dr. Stephen H. Uretsky is a board-certified ophthalmologist with 35 years of practice experience who specializes in comprehensive eye care. Coastal Jersey Eye Center features an optical center, Classic Eyewear, which provides eyeglass frames and lenses to suit every style and budget. For more information on eye exams or to schedule an appointment, please call the Linwood office at 609.927.3373 or 609.465.7926 for the Cape May Court House office. Visit online at www.CoastalJerseyEye.com.

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