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Prevent Blindness warns Ohioans about the dangers of backyard fireworks

Steep increase in consumer fireworks injuries as more states legalize their use

Published: June 28, 2017 12:00 AM

COLUMBUS The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), estimated that injuries from fireworks sent 11,900 Americans to the emergency room in 2015 with 67% occurring around the month of the Fourth of July holiday. Nearly 50% of injuries were to bystanders and 26% to children under 15 years of age. Sadly, the CPSC also reported 11 non-occupational fireworks-related deaths.

The CPSC states that burns from fireworks are the most common injury to all parts of the body, except the eyes, where contusions, lacerations, and foreign bodies in the eyes occurred more frequently. Last year 1900 fireworks injuries were to the eye and according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, approximately one third of eye injuries from fireworks result in permanent blindness.

Fireworks laws vary from state to state and sometimes, within different counties. Unfortunately, more and more states are going the route of legalization with dire consequences. Since 2008, 5 additional states have legalized discharge of consumer grade fireworks and during that same period of time, serious injuries increased by 60% from 2.3 injuries per 100,000 population in 2008 to 3.7 injuries per 100,000 populations in 2015.

A recent study, "Effect of Fireworks Laws on Pediatric Fireworks-Related Burn Injuries," published in the Journal of Burn Care & Research, concluded that the relaxing of fireworks laws in the United States has had a dramatic effect on the severity of the related injuries, resulting in more inpatient admissions and longer length of stay in the hospital.

Prevent Blindness believes that there is no safe way to use fireworks and supports the development and enforcement of bans on the importation, sale and use of all fireworks and sparklers, except those used in authorized public displays by competent licensed operators. The non-profit groupworks with leading organizations to educate the public on the dangers of consumer fireworks and endorses legislation to help protect adults and children from needless injuries from fireworks.

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In addition to the many healthcare groups and fire departments that oppose fireworks legalization, other opponents are animal advocates that report that dog shelters are overrun around the 4th of July with dogs that have been startled by fireworks discharges and run off. Farmers similarly express concerns as fireworks can startle cattle and other livestock or cause damage to crops. Veterans suffering from PTSD endure symptoms and stress brought on by fireworks discharge.

"The Fourth of July can still be fun without backyard fireworks or sparklers," said Sherry Williams. President & CEO of the Ohio Affiliate of Prevent Blindness. "By attending only fireworks shows run by licensed professionals, and being vigilant, we can celebrate our nation's birthday with family and friends, not in the emergency room."

For more information on the dangers of fireworks, please call Prevent Blindness, Ohio Affiliate at (800) 301-2020 or visit preventblindness.org/prevent-eye-injuries-fireworks.

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 800,000 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.


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