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Leave 4th of July Fireworks to Professionals

WEDNESDAY, July 4 (HealthDay News) -- For safety's sake, Americans should avoid using fireworks of any kind this Independence Day, experts say.

Prevent Blindness America urges consumers to attend only authorized public fireworks displays conducted by licensed operators. Individuals should not buy, use or store fireworks, including sparklers, the nonprofit organization added.

Although sparklers are sometimes considered to be safe, they were responsible for 17 percent of the injuries, including 36 percent of those sustained by children under 5 years of age, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Injuries from sparklers and other novelties also made up two out of five emergency room injuries, the CPSC found.

Overall, an estimated 6,200 people went to the emergency room between June 17 and July 17, 2011, for injuries they sustained while using fireworks, according to the CPSC. Their 2011 Fireworks Annual Report noted that children younger than 15 accounted for 26 percent of those injuries.

Prevent Blindness America announced it supports bans on the importation, sale and use of all fireworks and sparklers by non-licensed operators, such as bans established in Delaware, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York.

Last year alone, there were also more than 1,100 reported eye injuries, according to the CPSC report. To help Americans avoid the emergency room this July 4th, Prevent Blindness America offered the following safety tips:

If there are specks in the eye:

  • Do not rub the eye.
  • Allow tears to wash out the particles or use an eye wash.
  • Lift the upper eyelid outward and down over the lower lid.
  • If the speck doesn't wash out, see a doctor or visit the emergency room.

If the eye or eyelid is cut or punctured:

  • Do not rinse the eye with water.
  • Do not try to remove any object stuck in the eye.
  • Cover the eye with a stiff shield, such as the bottom of a paper cup, without applying any pressure.
  • Visit a doctor or an emergency room immediately.

"The 4th of July should be a time when we come together to honor our country by celebrating our great nation safely and responsibly," Hugh Parry, president and CEO of Prevent Blindness America, said in an organization news release. "We hope all Americans have a wonderful holiday with their loved ones, not in the emergency room."

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about eye injuries.

-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas

SOURCES: Prevent Blindness America, news release, June 15, 2012; June 2012, 2011 Fireworks Annual Report, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission

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