The Eye Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario Warn Against Potential Dangers of Sparklers
Summer is finally on its way and with it plenty of opportunities to celebrate beginning with Canada’s birthday on July 1st. The Eye Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (EPSO) want to remind Ontarians to exercise caution and safety when handling fireworks and especially sparklers.
While most parents would agree that fireworks are not an appropriate toy for children, some fireworks are marketed specifically for use by children. The most popular is the sparkler. Sparklers are made from a thin medal rod dipped in a pyrotechnic paste which is dried and then ignited. Most sparklers burn brightly for less than a minute but can reach temperatures of up to 2000 degrees Celcius. That’s hot enough to melt gold!
Every year there are approximately 10,000 visits to US emergency departments as a result of injuries caused by fireworks according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) . Some patients were only bystanders. Eye trauma contributes to an estimated 19 per cent of the total number of firework injuries. For children under 5, sparklers account for 61 per cent of the total estimated injuries.
Dr. Charlotte Wedge, Chief of Ophthalmology at Michael Garron Hospital cautions, “Fireworks are a great way to celebrate a holiday but if not handled properly they can cause serious eye damage and even blindness. I have seen everything from cuts and bruises to damaged corneas and retinas.”
If you do plan to use sparklers, the following safety precautions are recommended:
- Light one sparkler at a time – three sparklers burning together generate the same heat as a blow torch
- Supervise children with sparklers and never give them to anyone under five-years-old
- Ensure that everyone handling sparklers is wearing gloves
- Hold lit sparklers at arm’s length
- Don’t wave sparklers about when close to other people
- When you have finished with the sparkler put it in a bucket of cold water
Better yet, use glow sticks and glow necklaces which are non-toxic and can last for up to 8 hours, and leave the fireworks to the trained professionals.
If you experience an eye injury from fireworks or sparklers, you should seek medical attention immediately