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Prevent fireworks-related injuries
Even from Sparklers

Prevent Blindness Ohio, Ohio Department of Commerce's Division of State Fire Marshal, the Ohio Eye Care Coalition, and the Center for Injury Research and Policy in The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital have joined forces to educate Ohioans about the dangers of backyard fireworks.

In 2008, 7,000 people were treated in emergency departments for firework-related injuries. An estimated 5,000 fireworks-related injuries, or 70 percent of people treated, occurred during the one-month period surrounding the Fourth of July Holiday.

Injuries to children under the age of 15 accounted for 40 percent of the estimated firework-related injuries according to the CPSC Fireworks 2008 Annual Report. Children under the age of five experienced an estimated 200 injuries from sparklers, which is the largest number of injuries for that age group. The part of the body most often injured were hands (estimated 1,400 injuries), eyes (1,000), and the legs (900).

"Prevent Blindness Ohio supports a total BAN on backyard fireworks, including sparklers, which are widely available at grocery and department stores," said Sherry Williams, President & CEO of Prevent Blindness Ohio. "An estimated 800 serious injuries occurred last year due to the use of sparklers and 200 of those injuries were to children under the age of five," added Williams.

There are three types of fireworks in Ohio, all of which are hazardous: Trick and novelty items such as sparklers and snakes that can be legally sold and used by anyone; exhibitor fireworks which require a license to sell, purchase and use; and consumer class fireworks such as bottle rockets and roman candles, which require a license to sell.

Consumer fireworks can be purchased by anyone over the age of 18, but must be removed from the state within a certain timeframe and cannot be legally discharged in Ohio. A list of frequently asked questions on fireworks is available in the press room at www.com.state.oh.us.

"Every legally available backyard firework has been associated with serious injury and death," said Gary Smith, MD, DrPH, Director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital, and an associate professor of pediatrics at The Ohio State University College of Medicine. "Although some people mistakenly believe that backyard fireworks are safe if only adults handle them, our research shows that one-quarter of fireworks-related injuries to children occur to bystanders. These children were not using the fireworks themselves and yet they were still injured. This tells us that children are at risk of injury by simply being in the vicinity of backyard fireworks use." added Dr. Smith.

"The most important message this Fourth of July season is a message of safety," said Interim State Fire Marshal Don Cooper. "The Division of State Fire Marshal encourages everyone to enjoy the holiday by attending a licensed, public exhibition of fireworks."

Fireworks Safety Facts:

  • In 2008, 7,000 people were treated in emergency departments for firework-related injuries; seven were associated deaths.
  • 5,000 of the injuries (70 percent) occurred during a one-month period around the Fourth of July Holiday.
  • Firecrackers (900), sparklers (800) and rockets (300) accounted for the most injuries last year.
  • The part of the body most often injured were hands (estimated 1,400 injuries), eyes (1,000), and the legs (900).
  • Bottle rockets, firecrackers, sparklers and roman candles account for most eye injuries.
  • Backyard sparklers, often given to young children, burn at 1800 degrees - hot enough to melt gold.
  • Sparklers accounted for one-third (200 injuries) of the injuries to children under five years old. This is the largest number of estimated injuries in that age group.
  • The major causes of injuries are due to delayed or early fireworks explosions, errant flight paths of rockets, debris from aerial fireworks, and mishandling of sparklers.
  • In 2008, fireworks sparked 95 fires in Ohio

Prevent Blindness Ohio has 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 one half of fireworks injuries in children five years old 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 even professional displays can be dangerous.
  • Support policies that ban the importation, general sale and indiscriminate usage of fireworks by children and adults.

The Ohio Eye Care Coalition offers the following guidance in responding to eye injuries:

  • Do not delay medical attention, even for seemingly mild injuries. "Mild" injuries can worsen and end in vision loss or even blindness that might not have occurred had a doctor provided treatment early on.
  • Do not rub the eye nor attempt to rinse out the eye. Instead, shield the eye from pressure. Tape or secure the bottom of a foam cup, milk carton or similar shield against the bones surrounding the eye, including the brow, cheek and bridge of the nose.
  • Avoid giving aspirin or ibuprofen to try to reduce the pain. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs thin the blood and might increase bleeding. Acetaminophen is the over-the-counter drug of choice.
  • Do not apply ointment or any medication. It is probably not sterile. Also, ointments make the eye area slippery, which could slow the doctor's examination at a time when every second counts.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission Annual Report is available in full at: http://www.cpsc.gov/library/2008fwreport.pdf

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