Backyard fireworks aren’t worth losing your sight over

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SAN FRANCISCO – Many would argue that Fourth of July celebrations aren’t complete without backyard fireworks displays. But is it worth blinding children each year?

Hospital emergency rooms treat thousands of people for fireworks-related injuries each Fourth of July holiday.

Most of these victims are children; most of the injuries are caused by backyard, “class C” fireworks. And some of these injuries result in permanent visual loss or in the loss of an eye.

That’s why the American Academy of Ophthalmology urges Americans to leave the fireworks to the professionals. Don’t put your family at risk by using fireworks at home.

What does the damage?

It’s not just cherry bombs and M-80s that sent these children to the emergency room. Though these “class B” fireworks cause the most severe injuries, nearly two-thirds of all fireworks-related injuries are caused by backyard “class C” fireworks, such as firecrackers, bottle rockets, Roman candles, fountains and sparklers, which are legal in most states.

Even the seemingly innocent sparkler causes devastating injury, accounting for three-quarters of all fireworks injuries to children 5 and under.

Fireworks are attractive.

It’s obvious why. Fascinated by the bright sparks, many children find these sticks of fire – which burn as hot as 1,800 degrees, hot enough to melt gold – irresistible to touch.

“The intense heat can burn not only the skin, but also the eyes,” said Dr. Stuart Dankner, academy spokesperson. “I’ve treated several children who suffered corneal burns from sparklers. This type of ocular injury can lead to corneal scars and permanent vision loss.” Fireworks can also kill. In 1997, seven people were killed from fireworks-related injuries. In addition, fireworks cause life-threatening residential fires.

Not worth it.

Losing a child, an eye or a home is a tragic price to pay for backyard fireworks displays. Leave fireworks to the professionals. Professional fireworks shows are safer, cheaper and more spectacular.

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