Eye injuries from fireworks
How to deal with a firework or sparkler eye injury
We love to celebrate events with fireworks such as Bonfire night / Fireworks night, Diwali, Eid, Hanukkah or New Year’s Eve. However eye injuries from fireworks and sparklers are extremely common. Here’s some advice on what to do should that happen.
Quick action will minimise permanent eye damage following an injury from fireworks.
Take these steps immediately:
Seek medical attention
Don't rinse your eyes
Don't rub your eyes
Don't apply pressure to the eyes
Don't try and remove any objects that are stuck in the eye
Don't put anything in the eye such as ointment or lotion
Don't take any blood-thinning pain medications such as aspirin or ibuprofen
An A&E eye service is available at The Western Eye Hospital, 153-173 Marylebone Rd, Marylebone, London, NW1 5QH (available 24hrs), Tel: 020 3312 6666, or go to your nearest A&E emergency rooms which has an eye clinic.
Facts and Figures
Rockets take first place in the danger stakes causing more than a third of all serious eye injuries, but also flying high on the dangerous firework list is the innocent sparkler. Although sparklers are often thought to be one of the safest fireworks, they burn at temperatures hot enough to melt gold.
Every year 10 people in the UK lose their sight and 300 people suffer serious eye injuries as a result of accidents caused by fireworks. A study showed that 65% of people injured by fireworks are bystanders. And, it’s not just children larking about that are at risk – 73% of eye injuries, from corneal abrasions to serious ocular traumas, are sustained by adults and 45% injuries occur at private parties.
David Cartwright, Chairman of Eye Care Trust charity says: “Eye damage caused by fireworks is so often avoidable and can lead to permanently reduced vision or even blindness, so the Trust is urging people to take extra care of their eyes and follow the safety code.”
Always buy fireworks and sparklers that meet British Standards – ensure you buy your fireworks from a reputable retailer and that they conform to British Standards, these will be marked BS 7114 on the box. Read the instructions on the fireworks with a torch and follow them carefully.
Whether you are attending an organised display or a private event, Always follow the Firework Code, and take special care of your eyes with these safety tips:
Visit an organised display – it’s the safest way to enjoy fireworks.
Plan your firework display to make it safe and enjoyable and check the time you can legally set off fireworks.
Wear protective eyewear when handling, lighting or if you are in close proximity to fireworks. They can be worn over your regular glasses.
Remove all debris and flammable objects (including plants and trees) from your firework display area.
Keep all fireworks in a closed metal box.
Keep naked flames, including cigarettes, away from fireworks.
Only light one at a time, at arm's length with a taper and stand well back.
Once they are lit, stand AT LEAST 25 metres from Category 3 fireworks.
Keep your distance while lighting fireworks.
Direct any rocket fireworks well away from spectators.
Never return to a lit firework – if you have lit a firework but it hasn’t gone off, do not return to it. It may have a damaged fuse and could explode at any time causing serious injury.
Always hold sparklers at arm’s length.
Dispose of them in a bucket of water or sand.
Never give sparklers to children under the age of five.
Supervise children at all times – be vigilant to make sure they are never close to fireworks or left alone with sparklers.