Protect Your Eyesight this Fourth of July

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MORE THAN 6,000 AMERICANS EXPECTED TO SPEND THE 4TH OF JULY IN

EMERGENCY ROOMS DUE TO FIREWORKS-RELATED INJURIES

Prevent Blindness Ohio Urges the Public to Educate

Themselves on the Dangers of Fireworks

In 2011, 9,600 people were treated in emergency departments for firework-related injuries, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) Fireworks Annual Report issued in 2012. An estimated 6,200 fireworks-related injuries, or 65 percent of people treated, occurred during the one-month period surrounding the Fourth of July Holiday. The part of the body most often injured were hands and fingers (estimated 2,900 injuries), eyes (1,100 injuries), the head, face, and ears (1,100 injuries), and legs (700 injuries). Some injuries even caused permanent vision loss.

Prevent Blindness Ohio warns the public about the potential danger of fireworks because we want to invite the public to help ward off the number of expected injuries. Injuries from fireworks can have a severe impact, even affecting lives years after the accident.

According to the report, sparklers accounted for an estimated 1,100 injuries. Sparklers, which often are given to young children, burn at 1200 degrees or even hotter—hot enough to melt copper! For children under the age of five, sparklers accounted for the largest number of estimated injuries at 400 injuries (36%) of the total injuries in that age group. Injuries to children under the age of 15 accounted for 26 percent of the estimated firework-related injuries. Children and young adults under 20 years old had 36 percent of the estimated injuries. And in most cases bystanders are more often injured by fireworks than the operators themselves.

When Colin Burns was in the 5th grade his life changed when shrapnel and gunpowder from a firework that someone else lit, destroyed his left eye.  To make matters even worse, Burns was already being treated for amblyopia, or lazy eye.  The accident caused him to replace his “good eye” with a prosthetic eye and he then needed to rely on his weaker eye to compensate.  Burns endured multiple surgeries over the next few years, including one where doctors moved tissue from his bottom lip to his eye socket to help fill up space.  Because the risk of injury to his right eye was too great, he was not able to play in organized sports growing up.

Despite his injury, Burns accomplished tremendous amounts, including recently graduating law school.  However, the lingering effects of his eye injury have made many activities, including driving and reading, more difficult.

“Of course as a child, I didn’t fully realize how important healthy eyes were until my accident,” said Burns.  “I hope my story will serve as a reminder to everyone, especially parents, on how dangerous fireworks can be.”

Prevent Blindness Ohio offers these tips to help prevent fireworks-related injuries:

·         Do not purchase, use or store fireworks of any type.

·         Be aware that even sparklers are dangerous and cause nearly one half of fireworks injuries in children 5 and younger.

·         Protect yourself, your family and your friends by avoiding fireworks.

·         Attend only authorized public fireworks displays conducted by licensed operators but be aware that injuries can still occur.

Prevent Blindness Ohio continues to support the development and enforcement of bans on the importation, sale and use of all fireworks and sparklers, except for authorized public displays by competent licensed operators. The non-profit charitable organization believes such bans are the only effective means of eliminating the social and economic impact of fireworks-related trauma and damage.

“We want to wish everyone a safe and happy Fourth of July,” said Sherry Williams, President & CEO of Prevent Blindness Ohio. “We encourage everyone to celebrate this important holiday without the use of fireworks and sparklers.”

For more information on fireworks safety, please call Prevent Blindness Ohio at (800) 301-2020, log on to pbohio.org or preventblindness.org/prevent-eye-injuries-fireworks.

Prevent Blindness Ohio is partnering with Child Injury Prevention Alliance, Ohio Department of Commerce’s Division of State Fire Marshal, and the Ohio Eye Care Coalition for their annual Fireworks Safety News Conference on Thursday, June 27,2013 from 10am-11:00am at the State Fire Marshal’s Office, Ohio Fire Academy, 8895 E. Main Street, Reynoldsburg, Ohio, 43068. The news conference will be held to caution and educate Ohioans about the dangers of backyard fireworks. The 2012 U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s fireworks annual injury report will also be released at the news conference.  For more information call Stacie Lehman at 800-301-2020, ext. 119 or emailstaciel@pbohio.org.

About Prevent Blindness Ohio

Prevent Blindness Ohio, founded in 1957, is Ohio’s leading volunteer nonprofit public health organization dedicated to prevent blindness and preserve sight. We serve all 88 Ohio counties, providing direct services to more than 800,000 Ohioans annually and educating millions of consumers about what they can do to protect and preserve their precious gift of sight. Prevent Blindness Ohio is an affiliate of Prevent Blindness America, the country’s second-oldest national voluntary health organization. For more information or to make a donation call 800-301-2020 or visit us on the web at pbohio.org.

 

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