Fourth of July Sparklers Not So Innocent
If you must break out the sparklers this Fourth of July, just make sure you're using them safely.
If you've ever stepped on a smoldering sparkler, then you know how searing hot they are, even after they've been lit and discarded (all too often, on the ground.)
Catching a wayward spark in your eye, or in your hair could be 10 times worse!
It would seem sparklers are one of the few safer options available for celebrating the 4th of July, but they have been known to cause everything from eye injuries to severe burns.
Sparklers reach temperatures nearing 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, and according to the Georgia Optometric Association, some of the most common fireworks injuries are eye abrasions, lacerations, contusions and foreign matter in the eye. The majority of these cases are related to the use of sparklers.
"Celebrating the Fourth of July with fireworks is a great American tradition, but safety needs to be the top priority,” says Dr. Tom Spetalnick, president of the Georgia Optometric Association. “Children are frequent victims of injury from fireworks, particularly sparklers which are often handled at close distances.”
Children love sparklers, and teens are typically very interested in fireworks, which also account for a large amount of emergency room visits every Fourth of July.
According to a study by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, fireworks were the culprit for an estimated 8,800 injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms during 2009. Fifty four percent of those who were injured were children or teenagers!
Even the best of parents often overlook the necessity of taking a few simple precautions to keep kids safe from injury when it comes to using fireworks.
Fireworks are not always manufactured in a predictable fashion, so using them is always a gamble in terms of being seriously injured. Also, keep in mind, it's illegal for civilians to set off major fireworks in Alpharetta and Milton. You'll be held liable for causing fires or injuries.
If you stick to the smaller fireworks such as those available at Walmart, you're legal, but injury is still a threat, so put the odds in your favor for safety with some common sense protective measures.
The Georgia Optometric Association recommends the following tips to help protect and preserve eyesight during the Fourth of July holiday.
- Avoid purchasing sparklers. They heat up to 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit, and are the number one cause of fireworks injuries requiring trips to the emergency room.
- Wear protective eye-wear when lighting and handling fireworks of any kind. This small measure can save kids (and adults) from permanent damage to their eyes not to mention a very expensive trip to the emergency room.
- Do not allow kids to directly handle fireworks, and never leave them unsupervised near fireworks.
- Store fireworks, matches and lighters in a secure place where children won’t find them.
- Be aware of your surroundings and only light fireworks when family, friends and children are at a safe distance.
"If a firework-related eye injury does occur, always follow up with a full eye exam,” says Dr. Spetalnick. “An optometrist will help ensure that the injury heals correctly and can monitor for potential future vision problems.”
This column first appeared on Cumming Patch.