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Prevent Blindness Ohio
Stacie Lehman
Phone: 800-301-2020 ext. 119
E-mail: [email protected]

Prevent Blindness Ohio Urges the Public to Educate

Themselves on the Dangers of Fireworks

Columbus, OH (June 20, 2013) – 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 Reportissued 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 email [email protected].

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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2013 FIREWORKS SAFETY TALKING POINTS

 

Updated with CPSC’s 2011 Fireworks Annual Report

June 2013

  • Fireworks devices were involved in an estimated 9,600 injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms in 2011, based on the 2011 Fireworks Annual Report from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (released June 26, 2012).    
  • An estimated 6,200 injuries were treated in hospital emergency rooms during the one-month period surrounding the Fourth of July (June 17-July 17).  

 

Prevent Blindness Ohio will announce the 2012 injury statistics at the annual Fireworks Safety Press Conference on June 27, 2013.

Results from the 2011 special study include the following:

  • Of the fireworks-related injuries sustained, 68 percent were to males, and 32 percent were to females.
  • Children younger than 15 years of age accounted for approximately 26 percent of the estimated 2011 injuries. Thirty-six percent of the estimated emergency department-treated, fireworks-related injuries were individuals younger than 20 years of age.
  • There were an estimated 800 emergency department-treated injuries associated with firecrackers. Of these, an estimated 20 percent were associated with small firecrackers, 10 percent with illegal firecrackers, and 69 percent with firecrackers for which there was no specific information.
  • There were an estimated 1,100 emergency department-treated injuries associated with sparklers and 300 with bottle rockets.
  • The parts of the body most often injured were hands and fingers (an estimated 46 percent); eyes (an estimated 17 percent); head, face, and ears (an estimated 17 percent); and legs (an estimated 11 percent).
  • More than half of the emergency department-treated injuries were burns. Burns were the most common injury to all parts of the body, except the eyes, where contusions, lacerations, and foreign bodies in the eyes occurred more frequently.
  • Most patients were treated at the emergency department and then released. An estimated 12 percent of patients were treated and transferred to another hospital or admitted to the hospital.
  • Sparklers, often 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.

CPSC reported cases of eye injuries from fireworks: 

  • A 14-year-old female had a Roman Candle in her hand. When she ignited it, some of the debris went into her eye, causing a corneal abrasion.
  • A 34-year-old male dismantled a cake device (mortar) and set off the tubes one by one. One of the tubes went off more quickly than he expected and exploded in his face. As a result, the victim suffered broken bones between his nose and eye socket, causing vision loss. The victim now requires prescription glasses for his right eye.
  • A 22-year-old male was at his friend’s house. His friend lit a Roman Candle in the yard, and one of the sparks went into the victim’s eye due to the wind. The victim suffered a corneal abrasion.
  • A 16-year-old male’s brother stacked multiple-tube devices on top of each other and ignited them. The cubes fell over and started shooting in all directions. To protect others, the victim grabbed one of the cubes, which he thought was inactive. The firework exploded and went into his right eye. As a result, the victim suffered a corneal abrasion and hyphema.
  • A 33-year-old male ignited an aerial type of firework in front of his house. The firework went up about 6 feet and exploded. A burning ember came down and hit the victim in the right eye. He sustained a burn to his right eye.
  • A 54-year-old female was in a public park watching a city’s fireworks display across a river. The ashes/debris from the fireworks went into her eye. Her eye was irritated, and she got a hematoma in the eye.
  • A 19-year-old male was setting off mortar-type fireworks. The last firework went off faster than he expected and exploded about 2 feet from his face. The victim sustained burns to his face and an eye abrasion.
  • A 31-year-old male set off aerial shells at a beach. He placed a mortar into a tube and buried the tube a few inches in sand. When he lit the mortar, the tube blew apart and caused the mortar to go sideways. The firework hit the victim in his right eye. The victim suffered bleeding in his right eye, and the iris was torn apart.

Prevent Blindness America recommends:

  • The best defense against severe eye injuries and burns is to not play with any fireworks.
  • Do not purchase, use or store fireworks of any type. Protect yourself, your family and your friends by avoiding fireworks. Attend only authorized public fireworks displays conducted by licensed operators, but be aware that even professional displays can be dangerous.
  • Prevent Blindness America supports the development and enforcement of bans on the importation, sale and use of all fireworks and sparklers, except those used in authorized public displays by licensed operators, as the only effective means of eliminating the social and economic impact of fireworks-related trauma and damage.

Other Firework Statistics

  • According to the NFPA, on July 4, when consumer fireworks use is at its peak, fireworks are not only the leading cause of fires and associated civilian deaths and injuries, but also a leading cause of assorted direct property damage.

According to the American Pyrotechnics Association:

Laws by state: http://www.americanpyro.com/state-law-directory

  • Consumer Fireworks (formerly known as "Class C" Fireworks) - Also known as 1.4G Fireworks. These devices are most commonly sold at neighborhood stands during the Fourth of July season.

  • Display Fireworks (formerly known as "Class B" Fireworks) - Also known as 1.3G Fireworks. These are the fireworks used in large community displays run by licensed professionals (pyrotechnicians). These devices are not intended for use by consumers.

  • The legal limit of explosive material in a consumer (1.4G or Class C) firework is 50 mg (about the size of half an aspirin tablet). Any item containing more than 50 mg is illegal and should be avoided.

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