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Parents & Fireworks
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It’s amazing that some parents will insist that their children wear helmets, knee pads, elbow pads and more for roller-blading or bike riding, but have no problem giving them a sack full of fireworks and butane lighter without even providing any eye protection.

New Year's is coming up soon and hundreds of kids across Tennessee will be shooting bottle rockets out of their hands, firing Roman candles from their cul-de-sacs and throwing firecrackers dangerously close to their little sisters while mom and dad may be inside. Many children, unfortunately, will be seriously injured, and emergency rooms across the state will be packed.

Not to rain on anyone’s New Year's parade, but the fact is that children should not be allowed to shoot off fireworks, and most adults would be well-advised to let the professionals put on the show for their families at the array of public fireworks displays offered each year.

Consider this:

• On average, nearly 9,000 Americans are injured using fireworks each year.
• More than half of those cases involve children age 19 and younger, and kids ages 5 to 14 are at the greatest risk for a fireworks-related injury.
• About 40 percent of the injuries affect the head and face, and of those, one in six results in permanent vision loss or blindness.

Ophthalmologists, medical doctors cares for patients with eye diseases and injuries, they've seen patients who have lost an eye to fireworks. They’ve seen kids rushed in for emergency eye surgeries. They’ve seen parents horrified to learn that their child’s vision is permanently damaged. These injuries are gut-wrenching – and they are entirely preventable. That’s why ophthalmologists across the country are working to raise awareness about fireworks safety.

Here are some common sense tips to use when it comes to fireworks:

   • Never let children play with fireworks, and be aware that even sparklers burn at 1,200 degrees F, hot enough to cause third-degree burns. If you bring fireworks home, keep them secured and out of your children’s reach.
   • Beware of bottle rockets, another "innocent” fireworks product, which cause almost half of fireworks-related injuries, from eyelid lacerations to complete blindness.
   • Be aware of Tennessee consumer fireworks laws. They are illegal in many cities and counties. Respecting the law could prevent serious injury.
   • Leave it to trained professionals to handle and light fireworks, and view them from at least 500 feet away. Most professional displays have safety barriers to keep people away from danger, and those barriers should be respected.

Fireworks are fun. But keep in mind that, for little Bobby & Susie, they can be a lot more dangerous than forgetting to put on those knee pads.

Brought to you by the Tennessee Academy of Ophthalmology

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