Leave the Fireworks to the Professionals

February 12th, 2013 posted by Family Corner Staff

When Heather Clifford was just 17 years old, she never expected she would ever have a problem with her vision. The otherwise healthy girl was spending an ordinary afternoon out with her friends when a terrible accident occurred. She was hit in the eye with a bottle rocket that someone else had lit.

Her friends rushed her to the emergency room where doctors tried to repair the damage. Her mother, Linda Clifford, got the terrifying phone call no parent wants to receive– to come to the hospital immediately. The end result of the injury was a lens in Heather’s eye that was so damaged that the lens was later removed. Because of the extent of the injury, experts have told her that an implant is not possible.

Now at age 19, Heather has permanent damage, including an enlarged pupil, and must wear a contact lens in order to have any but the most minimal amount of vision in the eye. She complains that the glare from her contacts makes it even harder to see and can only perceive light and colors through the injured eye. She also suffers from terrible headaches.

“This whole situation, and so many others like it, could have been avoided if fireworks weren’t so readily available to everyone, including kids,” said Linda. “I want to tell other parents not to let their kids play with any kind of fireworks, including sparklers. Leave all that to the professionals!”

In 2003, there were 6,800 firework-related injuries treated in hospital emergency rooms during the one month period surrounding the Fourth of July. And, five out of six of those cases were from legal fireworks. A total of 9,300 injuries were reported for the entire year.

“We understand that fireworks are definitely thought of as part of Independence Day celebrations,” said Daniel D. Garrett, senior vice president of Prevent Blindness America (PBA). “We’re just asking the public to consider how dangerous they can be and to attend only authorized public fireworks displays.”

Laws allowing the purchase of fireworks by consumers vary from state to state and sometimes by county. According to the American Pyrotechnics Association there are only five states that ban all consumer sales, including Delaware, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island. Some states allow limited sales of particular types of fireworks, such as Arizona, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Ohio and Vermont. All other states, including Washington, D.C., allow the purchase of some or all types of fireworks.

PBA 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 – they burn up to 1800 degrees Fahrenheit and cause one third of injuries in children 5 and younger;
  • Protect yourself, your family and your friends by avoiding fireworks;
  • Support legislation that restricts the importation, general sale and indiscriminate usage of fireworks by children and adults.
Family Corner Staff (674 Posts)

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