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Fireworks-related injuries can damage eyes

Stop by Health 1st’s Wellness Wednesday table in the Children’s Hospital lobby between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. July 2 for handouts on eye safety during Fourth of July.

by Carolyn Cavanaugh, R.N.
Storm Eye Institute
Most Americans recognize Independence Day as a way to celebrate our freedom and way of life. It is a day for cookouts with families and friends, and a day for fun and enjoyment. When darkness arrives, we traditionally celebrate this day with fireworks. Watching the fireworks shoot in succession skyward, exploding, and bursting into colors and designs is breathtaking.
Unfortunately, a very serious side of fireworks exists that we do not consider until someone is injured.
According to the United States Eye Injury Registry, approximately 12,000 Americans are treated in emergency departments annually for fireworks related injuries. Of these, approximately 20 percent are eye injuries. As many as 400 Americans loose vision permanently in one or both eyes each year due to eye injuries caused by fireworks.
The eye injury registry has targeted bottle rockets as the major source of fireworks-related eye injuries. Data from the United States Eye Injury Registry show that bystanders are injured by fireworks more often than operators themselves, and bottle rockets are the single most commonly implicated device causing severe eye injury. The majority of those injured are young males. 
To help keep eyes healthy and a safe Fourth of July, attend a professionally sponsored public fireworks display, or practice the following:

Safety rules 
Never use bottle rockets.
Both operators and spectators should wear safety glasses or safety goggles.
Never put fireworks in glass containers, tin cans, or clay pots since these objects can shatter.
Use fireworks outdoors only.
Always keep a source of water nearby to douse malfunctioning fireworks and in case of fire. Labels and instructions should be read and followed carefully.
Never try to re-light malfunctioning fireworks.
Never allow young children to play with fireworks. 
Provide adult supervision if older children use fireworks.
Sparklers, often thought of as the safe firework and given to small children, burn at 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit (nearly hot enough to melt gold) and cause third degree burns.

In case of an eye injury
Do not touch, rub or press on the injured eye.
Do not remove foreign object from the injured eye.
Loosely cover the injured eye with a paper or plastic cup to prevent additional injury.
Seek immediate care from an ophthalmologist or hospital emergency room.
Data provided by the United States Eye Injury Registry, through funding by the Helen Keller Foundation, Birmingham, Ala.

Editor's note: The preceding column was brought to you on behalf of Health 1st. Striving to bring various topics and representing numerous employee wellness organizations and committees on campus, this weekly column seeks to provide MUSC, MUHA and UMA employees with current and helpful information concerning all aspects of health.

Friday, June 27, 2008
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