Eye Health

04 July 2017

Eye doctors debunk 5 fireworks myths

Most eye injuries are caused by legal fireworks that parents buy for their children.


No fireworks are safe, not even those innocent firecrackers, sparklers and bottle rockets that may seem harmless enough, eye doctors warn.

The potential to cause death

Each year, about 10 000 fireworks-related injuries are treated at US emergency departments. Most of those cases involve children, including many who suffer eye injuries, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO).

Children are also at a greater risk of burn injuries – which have and the potential to cause death, lifelong scarring, disfigurement and dysfunction – Health24 previously reported.

Most of the injuries are caused by legal fireworks that parents buy for their children, such as sparklers, firecrackers and Roman candles, according to the AAO.

The group debunks five top fireworks myths:

Myth 1. Sparklers are safe for young children. False. Sparklers burn at  982 degrees Celsius – that's hot enough to melt some metals. Sparklers are responsible for most fireworks-related injuries among children age 5 and younger.

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Myth 2. It's safe to watch nearby fireworks if you didn't light or throw them. Actually, bystanders are injured by fireworks just as often as the operators.

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Myth 3. Consumer fireworks are safe. Statistics show that sparklers and firecrackers each account for 1 400 injuries to the eyes every year in the United States. SA statistics are not available.

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Myth 4. It's safe to pick up a firework if it doesn't go off after it was lit. The fact is, even though it looks like a dud, it may still explode.

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Myth 5. It's just not Guy Fawkes Day without setting off your own fireworks.

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Read more:

Guys, sparklers can get red hot!

10 safety tips for Guy Fawkes

Should sky lanterns be banned?


Ask the Expert


Megan Goodman qualified as an optometrist from the University of Johannesburg. She has recently completed a Masters degree in Clinical Epidemiology at Stellenbosch University. She has a keen interest in ocular pathology and evidence based medicine as well as contact lenses.

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