FRANKFORT – Fireworks are a tradition that go hand-in-hand with the Fourth of July.
But all too often, that tradition can lead to injury. That’s why the Kentucky Optometric Association is urging families to take precautions to protect themselves and their children against the potential dangers of fireworks.
“Safety should always be the top priority when celebrating with fireworks,” said Dr. Aaron McNulty, an optometrist in Louisville. “Children are especially vulnerable to injury from fireworks, particularly sparklers because they are handled at such close range.”
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, there are more than 11,000 fireworks-related emergency-room visits annually, and 65 percent of them occurred in the weeks surrounding July 4. Eye injuries account for many of those visits.
To help prevent eye injuries during fireworks season, the Kentucky Optometric Association recommends the following tips to help protect and preserve eyesight during the Fourth of July holiday:
– Discuss firework safety with children and teens before July 4.
– Don’t allow children to handle fireworks, and never leave them unsupervised near fireworks.
– Wear protective eyewear when lighting and handling fireworks of any kind.
– Store fireworks, matches and lighters in a secure place where children won’t find them.
– Don’t buy sparklers. Heating up to 2,000 degrees or hotter, sparklers are the No. 1 cause of fireworks injuries requiring trips to the emergency room.
– 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 occurs, always follow up with a full optometric eye exam,” McNulty said. “An optometrist will help ensure that the injury heals correctly and will continue to monitor for future vision problems.”
To find a doctor of optometry in your area, visit www.kyeyes.org.