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  • Writer's pictureMaria Cholakova

Everything About Fireworks Eye Safety

Fireworks can be a beautiful and exciting way to celebrate various occasions. We are used to enjoying fireworks on Independence Day, New Year, and other special events. Most people rarely think about the potential risks they pose to eye health. Find out everything you need to know about fireworks eye safety here!

Fireworks Eye Injuries Statistics

Let's start with basic statistics to underline the importance of safety measures when using fireworks:

  • In 2021, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reported fireworks were responsible for 9 fatalities and 11,500 injuries.

  • Eye injuries constituted 14% of the total injuries caused by fireworks.

  • Fireworks can lead to devastating eye conditions. For example, globe rupture, chemical and thermal burns, corneal abrasions, and retinal detachment could result in permanent vision loss.

  • The report also highlighted that 1/3 of the total injuries were to children aged 15 and under.

  • 50% of the injuries that required a visit to the emergency room involved individuals aged 20 or younger.

  • Eye injuries by fireworks are most common on Independence Day and New Year’s Eve.

  • The 1,007 injuries recorded in the NEISS database are estimated to represent approximately 34,548 firework-related eye injuries treated in U.S. emergency departments during the study period, averaging 1,840 injuries per year.

  • The majority of the patients were 18 years old or younger (66%), male (72%), and white (51%).

For more detailed information, refer to the resources provided by the American Academy of Ophthalmology and their study on the prevalence and trends of eye injuries and fireworks.

Dangers of Misfires and Malfunctions of Fireworks

Fireworks misfires and malfunctions pose serious dangers to the one using them and those in the vicinity.

  • Misfired or malfunctioning pyrotechnics can explode unexpectedly, causing burn injuries to anyone nearby. These injuries can range from minor burns to severe, life-threatening burns.

  • Fireworks emit sparks, projectiles, and other debris, causing eye injuries if they malfunction. Eye damage from fireworks can result in permanent vision impairment or even blindness.

  • The loud bangs, especially when fireworks malfunction, can cause hearing damage or permanent hearing loss to individuals who are nearby.

  • Misfiring pyrotechnics can ignite nearby flammable materials, causing structural fires in homes, vehicles, or other structures. Such fires may lead to significant property damage and potentially harm individuals.

  • Misfires can cause fireworks to shoot unpredictably in various directions as projectile hazards.

  • Fireworks produce toxic fumes and particles when they burn. If a malfunction occurs, there may be a higher concentration of harmful substances released into the air, potentially leading to respiratory issues.

  • The residue pollutes the environment, including bodies of water, as well as harms wildlife.

  • An unexpected explosion of a misfired firework can have psychological effects, causing panic, anxiety, and trauma in young children and individuals with PTSD.

  • In public displays or crowded events, accidental fires can lead to crowd panics and stampedes. That's putting people at risk of trampling or other injuries as they try to flee from the unexpected danger.

To reduce the risks, follow safety guidelines for using fireworks.

eye injury

The 12 Steps for a Safe Firework Experience

1. Wear Eye Safety Gear

The best way to protect your eyes from fireworks injuries is to wear safety glasses or goggles. These should meet the ANSI Z87.1 standard for impact resistance. Ordinary prescription glasses are not sufficient to protect against fireworks.

2. Maintain a Safe Distance

Always maintain a safe distance from fireworks displays, as recommended by the organizers or local authorities. The farther you are from the ignition point, the lower the risk of being hit by debris or sparks. If you are setting off fireworks yourself, please make sure you have a clear path to quickly get away from the pyrotechnics once you light them up.

3. Leave Fireworks to Professionals

Setting off fireworks yourself might sound tempting, but it's not wise. The best way to enjoy fireworks and ensure eye safety is to attend a professional display organized by experts who follow safety protocols. These displays provide entertainment without unintentionally endangering the public.

4. Supervise Children

Don't allow children near the fireworks set-off site and don't let them light the pyrotechnics. Little ones can still enjoy the colorful light show without being close to the explosive display. Even if you're using small fireworks like sparklers at home, you should also supervise children closely. Sparklers burn at extremely high temperatures and can easily cause eye injuries or burns.

5. Only Light Fireworks Outdoors

It is only safe to use fireworks outside. Never set or light them up indoors! This is the most fundamental safety rule when handling fireworks. While outside, avoid using pyrotechnics near dry grass, shrubs, or other flammable materials. Leave a minimum of a 10-meter 'empty' perimeter around the fireworks display.

6. Don't Relight Duds

If a firework fails to ignite or malfunctions, do not attempt to relight it. Keep a safe distance. Wait at least 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water to ensure it's completely extinguished.

7. Keep a Bucket of Water and a Fire Extinguisher Nearby

Have a bucket of water or a hose readily available to douse fireworks, especially in case of a mishap. We don't expect you to have a fire extinguisher at home, but public places do have these available. So if you are in a public space, make sure you know where to find it and and that you have quick access to it. That way, you can adequately react in case of a fire emergency until the firefighters arrive.

8. Beware of Homemade Fireworks

Homemade or illegal fireworks are dangerous. Avoid using or being near them, as they are more likely to malfunction and cause harm. If you are present in a place where another person handles the homemade fireworks, please wear eye protection and keep a safe (and impact-obstructed) distance from the set-off site.

9. Be Cautious with Firecrackers

Firecrackers, like bottle rockets and firecracker balls, can be particularly dangerous to the eyes. Always light them at arm's length, and never point them at people, animals, or structures. If you use them, absolutely get eye protection!

10. Protect Pets

Fireworks can be distressing to pets as well. Keep your pets indoors and in a safe, quiet space during fireworks displays to reduce their anxiety. Stay with them for support if you have the chance.

11. Educate Others on Fireworks Eye Safety

Spread awareness about fireworks safety to your friends and family to help reduce the risk of eye injuries during celebrations. Share this article with your fireworks-crazy friends to make them aware of the dangers.

12. Seek Medical Help if Injured

If an eye injury does occur, seek immediate medical attention. Do NOT rub the eye or apply any pressure. Gently place a clean, protective covering (like a towel or a paper cup) over the eye and secure it in place while seeking medical help.

Importance of Fireworks Eye Safety to Avoid Eye Injuries

Fireworks eye safety is vital to preventing eye injuries and avoiding their devastating and irreversible consequences.

Prioritizing fireworks eye safety is crucial for several reasons:

  • Prevent vision loss

  • Protect children and vulnerable groups

  • Promote responsible behavior

  • Preserve quality of life

  • Maintain independence

  • Educate, raise awareness and set an example

  • Reduce healthcare costs

Firework eye injuries may lead to permanent vision loss!
Fireworks Eye Safety

Prevent Vision Loss

The eyes are sensitive and complex organs. Even a tiny piece of debris or a spark can cause significant damage and even loss of sight. There is no better way to protect yourself than to follow the eye safety guidelines we told you about in the previous section.

Protect Children and Vulnerable Groups

Prioritizing fireworks eye safety helps protect the most vulnerable members of the population. Those are children and adults close to the fireworks site. Children are particularly susceptible to fireworks-related injuries because they may not fully understand the dangers. They also don't have access or don't know how to use proper protective equipment.

Promote Responsible Behavior

By emphasizing the importance of fireworks eye safety, we encourage responsible behavior during celebrations. This includes respecting safety guidelines, avoiding illegal or homemade fireworks, and not taking unnecessary risks just for the thrill of it.

Preserve Quality of Life

Losing vision in one or both eyes due to blast injury has a profound impact on the quality of life. Eye injuries from fireworks tend to be excruciatingly painful, followed by a prolonged recovery period. Then they can affect the ability to work, engage in daily activities, and enjoy life to the fullest.

Maintain Independence

A single moment of carelessness during a fireworks display can lead to a lifetime of regret due to a preventable eye injury. Having a good vision contributes to maintaining independence. Fireworks eye injuries inevitably limit a person's ability to care for themselves, drive, or perform routine tasks. Protecting one's eyes helps maintain independence and self-sufficiency.

Educate, Raise Awareness, Set a Positive Example

Emphasizing fireworks eye safety raises awareness about the risks associated with fireworks. Public awareness campaigns and information sharing may reduce the number of eye injuries during grand festivities. You need to be responsible and be a positive example for others, in particular children and young adults. When adults model responsible behavior, it encourages younger generations to do the same.

Reduce Healthcare Costs

Accidents with explosive materials often require urgent medical attention. And we all know that surgery and follow-up care often come with costly medical bills. The best way to stay out of harm's way and financial trouble is to take all safety precautions while handling fireworks.


Eye injuries by fireworks are always severe. To minimize the risk, we urge you to enjoy fireworks displays from a safe distance. Let trained professionals handle the larger, more elaborate fireworks shows. Your safety and the safety of those around you should be the top priority during festive celebrations.

Stay mindful and safe!

Checked by Atanas Bogoev, MD.


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