Fireworks and Your Eyes

Summer is almost upon us, the weather is getting warmer, and children are anxiously counting the days until summer holidays begin.  Let us not forget the celebration that marks the official kick off of summer, Canada Day, July 1st. Canada Day brings with it, picnics, barbeques, concerts and, of course, fireworks. There will be a number of large fireworks displays across the country, but maybe you want to put on your own display. You’ve read the instructions, made sure to find a safe place to launch your fireworks in order not to set the surrounding area on fire. You have a pail of water and maybe even a hose on hand, just in case. But have you considered eye safety when working with fireworks? If not, there are a few things you need to know.

Fireworks and Eye Injuries

Thousands of people are injured by fireworks every year, many of them children, and many of those injuries are eye injuries. With all the excitement surrounding the Canada Day celebrations, too often fireworks are treated as toys, often with tragic results. One of the most important things you need to learn is that they are not toys, they are potentially dangerous and need to be treated as such.

Sparklers and Children’s Eyes

First and foremost, all fireworks are potentially dangerous and should never be handled by children. This includes sparklers. Due to their small and non-explosive nature, sparklers are often overlooked when considering fireworks safety. Because of this, they end up being the one most often associated with severe burns and eye injuries in children. Sparklers burn at nearly 2,000 degrees, heat great enough to melt some metals. A single spark in a child’s eye can cause permanent damage and even blindness.

Protecting your Eyes When Handling Fireworks

When setting off fireworks, first make sure that all spectators are a safe distance away from the area where you are lighting them. The instructions on the fireworks should tell you what a safe distance is, the norm being at least 20 metres. If different packages give you different parameters, always go with the most distant to guarantee safety.  The person lighting the fireworks should always use fire resistant safety goggles. Always use a long match, not a cigarette lighter, when lighting the fireworks. If one or more firework does not go off, do not touch it or attempt to relight it. Wait approximately 30 minutes then carefully drop it in a bucket of water. All fireworks should be doused in water after the display, for safety’s sake.

What happens if an Eye Injury Occurs, due to Fireworks?

If someone does get an eye injury, act immediately. Do not rub the eye or apply any pressure, nor should you attempt to rinse it or apply ointment.  Do not use any over-the-counter pain medication. Get the injured person professional medical attention immediately. Nothing you can do yourself will help more than an emergency physician can, and any attempt at home remedies may damage the eye more. Once the eye is healing properly, be sure to pay a visit to your optometrist to do a follow up. Never take chances with your eyes.