June 21, 2000
Fireworks are among the most popular and exciting ways to celebrate Independence Day and also one of the most dangerous. Approximately 12,000 Americans are admitted to emergency rooms every year for fireworks-related injuries, either from misuse or malfunction, according to the United States Eye Injury Registry (USEIR). Almost half of those injured are bystanders, and nearly 400 patients lose vision in one or both eyes because of their injuries, the USEIR reports.
Sparklers, which are commonly thought to be "safe" fireworks and given to children, actually burn at up to 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit and can cause third-degree burns.
John B. Kerrison, M.D., an ophthalmologist at the Johns Hopkins Wilmer Ophthalmological Institute and director of the Ocular Trauma Service, says bottle rockets are the most common fireworks to cause eye injury. "These eye injuries can be very serious and may require surgery to remove the eye," Kerrison reports. "The most important thing you can do to prevent injuries is to leave fireworks to the professionals."