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Fireworks can be a fun part of an Independence Day celebration. But they can be dangerous if no safety measures are taken. Michele Skalicky reports.
Many people celebrate Independence Day by shooting off their own fireworks
But the fun can turn tragic when fireworks are lit by unsupervised children or when something goes wrong that results in injuries.
As of last Friday, Dr. Shachar Tauber, ophthalmologist with St. John's Regional Health Systems, says he and his colleagues had seen six fireworks-related eye injuries during the month of June, and he expected to see even more.
Tauber says there are two types of injuries that are the most common
Children remain a particularly vulnerable group for injuries caused by fireworks. Almost half the injuries reported in the most recent national statistics—43%--happened to children under the age of 15. The risk of fireworks injury is nearly 3 times as high for children ages 10 to 14 as the general population.
And eyes are the 2nd most likely part of the body to be injured by fireworks, topped only by injuries to the hand.
Tauber says many of these injuries can be prevented simply by following simple safety procedures like wearing eye protection and having close adult supervision
Tauber feels that fireworks should be handled by professionals. He suggests attending organized fireworks displays rather than setting off your own. But, he says, those who do choose to set off their own, should never let children light them and should always wear eye protection.
Charlene Gardner has become an advocate of fireworks safety. Her 17-year-old son, Nick, was injured last week when a friend lit a bottle rocket that was pointed at the ground, and it ricocheted off the ground and hit Nick in the eye
Gardner is determined to spread the word about the danger of fireworks in the hands of children
Gardner says her family will no longer set off their own fireworks—something they've always done in the past.
Meanwhile, Nick is healing. But he'll have a risk for glaucoma and retinal detachment for the rest of his life.
St. John's says those who set off their own fireworks should follow some safety tips. Only allow older children light fireworks under close adult supervision, light fireworks away from houses, dry leaves and grass, keep a bucket of water nearby, be sure other people are out of close range and don't try to relight or handle malfunctioning fireworks. Douse them with water and then throw them away.