Protect your Vision By Being Eye Smart This July 4th

News Release

Nebraska Ophthalmologists Caution Parents: Children at High Risk for Fireworks Eye Injuries

Eye Medical Doctors Remind the Public that Fireworks of all Types, including Sparklers, can be Dangerous

LINCOLN, Neb. – June 21, 2012 – As the Fourth of July holiday nears, the Nebraska Academy of Eye Physicians and Surgeons and the American Academy of Ophthalmology are working together to urge Nebraska residents to protect themselves and their children from fireworks eye injuries. Of the 9,000 fireworks-related injuries each year, 21 percent impact the eyes and more than half of the victims are young children or teenage.[i]

Fireworks of all types, including sparklers, are dangerous. Sparklers typically burn at 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit and cause 27 percent of all fireworks injuries, including third-degree burns. Bottle rockets cause some of the most serious eye injuries. Errant bottle rockets can injure bystanders and cause eye lid lacerations, corneal abrasions, traumatic cataract, retinal detachment, optic nerve damage, rupture of the eyeball, eye muscle damage, and complete blindness. One in every six fireworks-related eye injuries results in permanent vision loss or blindness.[ii]

For thousands of families across the U.S., Independence Day celebrations have turned to nightmares when their children were hurt or even blinded by fireworks.

  • A 6-year-old child lit an M-80 firework that he had found in his home. The explosion resulted in a traumatic injury and he called 911 for help. His eye injuries required an immediate cornea transplant and lens replacement, and he has undergone several additional eye surgeries since the incident.
  • A 12-year-old boy did not fully unwrap the fuse of a fountain firework, making the fuse too short and causing it to explode almost immediately after being ignited. The firework blew up in his face, severely injuring the child’s eye.
  • After a man lit smoke bombs that created colored smoke, his 4-year-old son leaned in to get a closer look. Tar from the smoke bomb wick shot into the boy’s eye, causing a corneal abrasion.

“Unfortunately, ophthalmologists see serious, blinding eye injuries on July Fourth each year because people forget that fireworks, while fun, are also dangerous,” said David D. Ingvoldstad, M.D., president of the Nebraska Academy of Eye Physicians and Surgeons. “Children face the highest risk, so parents should diligently supervise their kids around fireworks.”

To prevent an eye injury from ruining Fourth of July celebrations, the American Academy of Ophthalmology urges Americans to follow these tips:

  • Never let children play with fireworks of any type.
  • View fireworks from at least 500 feet away.
  • Leave the lighting of fireworks to trained professionals.
  • Respect safety barriers set up to allow pyrotechnicians to do their jobs safely.
  • If you find unexploded fireworks, do not touch them. Immediately contact your local fire or police departments.

If you experience an eye injury during a fireworks accident, seek immediate medical help from an ophthalmologist, an eye medical doctor. For more fireworks safety tips, visit www.geteyesmart.org.

About the Nebraska Academy of Eye Physicians and Surgeons

The mission of the Nebraska Academy of Eye Physicians and Surgeons is to promote the highest quality medical and surgical eye care through public and professional education, membership services, and legislative advocacy. Learn more at www.nebeye.org.

About the American Academy of Ophthalmology
The American Academy of Ophthalmology is the world’s largest association of eye physicians and surgeons – Eye M.D.s – with more than 32,000 members worldwide.  Eye health care is provided by the three “O’s” – ophthalmologists, optometrists, and opticians. It is the ophthalmologist, or Eye M.D., who can treat it all: eye diseases, infections and injuries, and perform eye surgery. For more information, visit www.aao.org. The American Academy of Ophthalmology’s EyeSmart® program educates the public about the importance of eye health and empowers them to preserve their healthy vision. EyeSmart provides the most trustworthy and medically accurate information about eye diseases, conditions and injuries. OjosSanosTM is the Spanish-language version of the program. Visit www.geteyesmart.org or www.ojossanos.org to learn more.


[i] Consumer Product Safety Commission, 2010 Fireworks Annual Report, accessed at http://www.cpsc.gov/library/2010fwreport.pdf

[ii] British Journal of Ophthalmology, Ocular firework trauma: a systematic review on incidence, severity, outcome and prevention, accessed at http://bjo.bmj.com.proxy1.library.jhu.edu/content/94/12/1586.full#ref-11

Firework Laws for Nebraska

Permissible Fireworks
Permissible fireworks shall mean only sparklers, Vesuvius fountains, spray fountains, torches, color fire cones, star and comet type color aerial shells without explosive charge for the purpose of making a noise, lady fingers, not to exceed seven-eights of an inch in length or one-eighth inch in diameter, total explosive composition not to exceed fifty milligrams (50 mg.) each in weight, color wheels and any other fireworks approved by the State Fire Marshal. Permissible fireworks shall mean only those fireworks annually listed and promulgated by the State Fire Marshal in Title 157.

The following novelty items, snakes and sparklers, do not require a permit to be sold in Nebraska:
• Auto Jokers/Foolers
• Bang Matches
• Blaster Balls
• Booby Traps/Pulling Fireworks
• Cap Guns and Caps
• Champagne Party Poppers
• Cigarette Loads
• Magnum Pistol Popper
• Snappers – Novelty-type ONLY
• Sparkle Matches
• Smoke Items (all balls, cartridges, or other devices designed to produce smoke of one or more color (010.)
• Snakes and Charmers (011.)
• Wire or Wooden Sparklers – Gold or Silver
• Xmas Party Popper
All persons licensed to sell fireworks in Nebraska who wish to sell fireworks not found on the current permissible fireworks list shall submit samples of those types of fireworks to the State Fire Marshal’s Office for safety testing.

Roman Candles and Starlights
All 5 to 10 shot Roman Candles or Starlights, with or without report are permissible. All Roman Candles or Starlights MUST HAVE A SPIKE inserted in the non-firing end at the time of display in the retail stand. These fireworks are intended for ground placement and firing in a safe direction.

ENFORCEMENT
Failure to comply with the requirements of these regulations may be grounds for
administrative enforcement proceedings as provided by Neb. Rev. Stat. §84-901 et
seq. or penalties in criminal proceedings brought in the discretion of the County
Attorney or Attorney General pursuant to Neb. Rev. Stat. § 28-1241 to §28-1252.

SEVERABILITY
If any clause, paragraph, subsection or section of these regulations shall be held
invalid, it shall be conclusively presumed that the State Fire Marshal would have
enacted the remainder of these regulations not directly related to such clause,
paragraph, subsection or section.

Fireworks safety video A

Fireworks Safety Video B