Lots of us will again be looking forward to the fireworks displays happening across the nation on November 5, however as hundreds of us wrap up warm and head out into the cold, the College of Optometrists is urging people to take a moment to think about protecting their eyes so they can enjoy the shows safely.
Fireworks cause just under 300 eye injuries a year, with nearly half of all injuries occurring at private parties. More worryingly, eye injury is the most common firework-related injury and ten people lose their sight every year in the UK due to fireworks so it is vital that people are clued up to the potential dangers.
Dr Susan Blakeney, Clinical Adviser at the College of Optometrists, says: “It’s essential that people know how to enjoy fireworks safely. Whilst bonfire night is a fun evening with friends or family, every year there are numerous eye injuries caused by fireworks and sparklers which could be avoided. We also know that over two fifths of firework–related injuries are suffered by children so it’s very important that they are supervised at all times.”
The College of Optometrists has developed the following advice to help you enjoy bonfire night without getting hurt.
Wear protective eye wear – if you’re going to be handling, lighting or in close proximity to fireworks you will need to wear protective goggles – normal glasses will not protect your eyes against most injuries. If you’re lighting fireworks, you should wear polycarbonate lenses – for more information, talk to your optometrist.
Stand back – it’s important to light all fireworks at an arm’s length with a specially designed taper. Once you have lit the firework, stand well back as it launches to prevent sparks going into your eyes.
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 which means it is taking longer to go off and it could explode at any time causing serious injury.
Supervise children at all times – over half of firework injuries are suffered by children so be vigilant to make sure they are never close to fireworks or left alone with sparklers.
Do not give sparklers to children under the age of five – sparklers can be very dangerous (they can become five times hotter than cooking oil) as they become burning rods of metal once they are lit and give off sparks which can burn the eye. It’s important for everyone to enjoy sparklers safely, remember to keep your arm extended and never bring the sparkler close to your face.
Buy fireworks that meet British Standards – ensure you buy your fireworks from a reputable retailer and that they confirm to British Standards, these will be marked BS 7114 on the box.