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An Estimated 1,800 Fireworks Injuries Were to the Eyes in 2017

An Estimated 1,800 Fireworks Injuries Were to the Eyes in 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  June 29, 2018

For more information:

Prevent Blindness, Whitney Anderson: 614-464-2020 ext. 105

Cell: 614-226-5772

[email protected]

Ohio Department of Commerce, Kelly Stincer: 614-752-7179

[email protected]

Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Dr. Gary A. Smith: 614-355-0495

[email protected]

Health and Safety Leaders Urge the Public to Celebrate Independence Day Safely, Leave Fireworks to Competent

                                                    Licensed Operators in Authorized Displays Only

                                          – An Estimated 1,800 Fireworks Injuries Were to the Eyes in 2017 –

COLUMBUS, OH (June 29, 2018)– The Ohio Affiliate of Prevent Blindness, Ohio Department of Commerce’s Division of State Fire Marshal, Child Injury Prevention Alliance, and the Ohio Fireworks Safety Coalition joined forces at Nationwide Children’s Hospital  today to educate Ohioans about the dangers of backyard fireworks.

Ohioans are urged NOT to use backyard fireworks because of the high fire danger and the risk of personal injury – specifically to young children – and the potential penalty for breaking Ohio’s fireworks law.

According to the 2017 U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) Fireworks Annual Report released this week, 12,900 people were treated in emergency departments for firework-related injuries. An estimated 8,700 fireworks-related injuries, or 67 percent of people treated, occurred during the one-month period surrounding the Fourth of July Holiday.

“Prevent Blindness supports a total BAN on consumer discharge of backyard fireworks, including sparklers, which are widely available at grocery and department stores,” said Sherry Williams, President & CEO of The Ohio Affiliate of Prevent Blindness. “Unfortunately, more and more states are going the route of legalization with dire consequences. Study results from Iowa, a state that just experienced its first summer of legal consumer fireworks use after a decades-long ban, show injuries due to backyard fireworks increased by 163% over the previous three-year average. In addition, 67% of Iowans were in favor of consumer fireworks before the ban was lifted and only 47% were in favor after,” added Williams,

Injuries to children under the age of 15 accounted for 36 percent of the estimated firework-related injuries. Young adults 20 to 24 years of age had the highest estimated rate of emergency department-treated fireworks related injuries. The parts of the body most often injured were hands and fingers (an estimated 31 percent); head, face, and ears (an estimated 22 percent); legs (an estimated 17 percent); eyes (an estimated 14 percent or 1,800 eye injuries); trunk (an estimated 10 percent); and arms (an estimated 6 percent).  

Gary A. Smith, MD, DrPH, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital-Columbus and president of the Child Injury Prevention Alliance said, “Our studies show that parental supervision is not enough to prevent consumer fireworks injuries to children – in fact, children who are simply bystanders and not even handling the fireworks are often injured. The words that I hear when parents bring their child crying in pain to the emergency department after a firework injury are always the same: ‘Doctor, I can’t believe that this happened to my child. I was standing right there, but it happened so fast that I could not do anything in time to stop it from happening’. These good parents simply believed the myth that these products could be used safely. Do not make that mistake with your family.”

There are three types of fireworks in Ohio, all of which are hazardous: Trick and novelty items such as sparklers and snakes that can be legally sold and used by anyone; exhibitor fireworks which require a license to sell, purchase and use; and consumer class fireworks such as bottle rockets and roman candles, which require a license to sell. Consumer fireworks can be purchased by anyone over the age of 18, but must be removed from the state within a certain timeframe and cannot be legally discharged in Ohio.

“The Division of State Fire Marshal encourages all Ohioans to attend public fireworks displays. These displays are hosted by local municipalities and licensed exhibitors,” said Ken Klouda, Fire Prevention Bureau Chief. “Besides being safer and legal, professional fireworks displays are better than any exhibit that could be produced with consumer fireworks.”

Even individuals with fire safety training can be threatened because these devices are unpredictable and can take errant flight paths. Jay Northrup, a 23-year veteran of the Euclid Fire Department in Euclid, Ohio, was discharging backyard fireworks in 2016 when a dud he was examining suddenly exploded. The blast threw him to the ground, leaving him completely disoriented and unable to see.

The impact from the explosion caused a subdural hematoma, one of the deadliest of all head injuries. Once doctors controlled the bleeding and pressure in his brain, they turned to the cuts on his forehead that required 35 stitches to close. His face was also burned and bruised.

“I thought I was dying”, he said. Now, he is on a mission to make sure no one else becomes a statistic. “My advice for celebrating the Fourth of July? Leave the fireworks to the professionals or, better yet, just go have a nice family picnic”, Northrup said. 

 
Fireworks Safety Facts:

  • In 2017, 12,900 people were treated in emergency departments for firework-related injuries.

  • There were fireworks-related deaths.

  • 8,700 of the injuries (67 percent) occurred during a one-month period around the Fourth of July Holiday.

  • According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, Approximately one third of eye injuries from fireworks result in permanent blindness. http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/pediatrics/108/1/190.full.pdf

  • In Ohio, in 2017, fire incidents involving fireworks caused 25 structure fires, resulting in an estimated $93,900 in property loss and $17,701 in content loss. In total, there were 78 fire incidents involving fireworks reported for 2017, with an estimated $109,555 in property loss and $18,176 in content loss.

  • The National Fire Protection Agency states that almost half of the reported fires on the Fourth of July were started by fireworks. http://www.nfpa.org/news-and-research/fire-statistics-and-reports/fire-statistics/fire-causes/fireworks

  • The size of the fireworks product is no indication of the amount of the explosive material inside it.

  • The major causes of injuries are due to delayed or early fireworks explosions, errant flight paths of rockets, debris from aerial fireworks, and mishandling of sparklers.

  • Firecrackers (800), reloadable shells (1,000), bottle rockets and other rockets (600), and sparklers (1,200) accounted for the most injuries last year.

  • The parts of the body most often injured were hands and fingers (an estimated 31 percent); head, face, and ears (an estimated 22 percent); legs (an estimated 17 percent); eyes (an estimated 14 percent or 1,200 eye injuries); trunk (an estimated 10 percent); and arms (an estimated 6 percent).  

  • Sparklers, often given to young children, burn at 1200 degrees or even hotter—hot enough to melt copper.

  • For children under the age of five there were 900 injuries altogether, with sparklers accounting for almost 50 percent of the estimated injuries for that age group.

  • Children younger than 15 years of age accounted for approximately 36 percent of the total injuries in 2017 or estimated 4644 injuries in 2017.  More than half of the estimated emergency department-treated, fireworks-related injuries were to individuals younger than 20 years of age.

  • Of the fireworks-related injuries sustained, 70 percent were to males, and 30 percent were to females.

Prevent Blindness 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 and caused 44 percent of fireworks injuries in children five years old and younger last year.

Prevent Blindness has these tips to help prevent fireworks-related injuries:

  • Protect yourself, your family and your friends by avoiding fireworks.

  • Attend only authorized public fireworks displays conducted by licensed operators, but be aware that even professional displays can be dangerous

  • Support policies that ban the importation, general sale and indiscriminate usage of fireworks by children and adults

The Ohio Eye Care Coalition offers the following guidance in responding to eye injuries:

  • Do not delay medical attention, even for seemingly mild injuries. “Mild” injuries can worsen and end in vision loss or even blindness that might not have occurred had a doctor provided treatment early on.

  • Do not rub the eye nor attempt to rinse out the eye.

  • Avoid giving aspirin or ibuprofen to try to reduce the pain. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs thin the blood and might increase bleeding. Acetaminophen is the over-the-counter drug of choice.

  • Do not apply ointment or any medication. It is probably not sterile. In addition, ointments make the eye area slippery, which could slow the doctor’s examination at a time when every second counts.

 

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission Annual Report is available here.

Full fireworks press conference is available here.

Ohio Fireworks Safety Coalition (OFSC) Coalition of 52 statewide and regional organizations established in 1998 to educate the public about the dangers of consumer use of fireworks.

Ohio Department of Commerce

A list of frequently asked questions on fireworks is available in the pressroom at www.com.ohio.gov/fire.

The Child Injury Prevention Alliance works to prevent injuries, both intentional and unintentional, to children and adolescents in the U.S. and around the world. The organization achieves its goals through trans-disciplinary scientific research carried on in the public interest, by translating research findings into programs and policies, by providing leadership in injury prevention initiatives and advocacy, and by fostering national and global collaboration in injury research and prevention. Injury professionals and parents seeking information about child and adolescent injury prevention can visit www.childinjurypreventionalliance.org, follow us on Twitter (www.twitter.com/CIPAInjury), or follow our boards on Pinterest (www.pinterest.com/CIPAinjury), or subscribe to us on YouTube (www.youtube.com/CIPAInjury). Media requests can be directed to 614-398-2472.

About Prevent Blindness

Founded in 1908, Prevent Blindness is the nation’s leading volunteer eye health and safety organization dedicated to fighting blindness and saving sight. The Ohio Affiliate of Prevent Blindness is Ohio’s leading volunteer nonprofit public health organization dedicated to prevent blindness and preserve sight. We serve all 88 Ohio counties, providing direct services to more than 1,000,000 Ohioans annually and educating millions of consumers about what they can do to protect and preserve their precious gift of sight. For more information or to make a contribution, call 800-301-2020.  Or, visit us on the web at www.pbohio.org or facebook.com/pbohio and Twitter at https://twitter.com/#!/PB_Ohio.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission Annual Report is available here.

Full fireworks press conference is available here.