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When Corks Fly, Watch the Eyes

Careful opening techniques can help prevent serious injuries,,

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 31 (HealthDay News) -- Be careful with the bubbly or you could be among the estimated 1,500 Americans in the ER this holiday season with an eye injury from a flying champagne cork.

When a champagne bottle is opened improperly, the cork can travel up to 50 mph and, in a fraction of a second, permanently injure an eye, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

Warm bottles of champagne and poor technique in removing the cork often lead to such explosive results, but simple precautions can cut the chance of injury.

To open a bottle of champagne or sparkling wine the safest way:

  • Chill the bottle to at least 45 degrees Fahrenheit before opening.
  • Hold down the cork with the palm of your hand while removing the wire hood.
  • Place a towel over the top of the bottle and grasp the cork. Point the bottle at a 45-degree angle away from you and others, and begin slowly twisting the bottle while holding the cork in place.
  • When you feel the cork start to break free from the bottle, hold the cork and apply slight downward pressure to the cork as the seal breaks.

The academy also offers a few suggestions on what not to do when opening champagne:

  • Don't shake the bottle.
  • Don't use a corkscrew opener.
  • Don't use your thumbs to force the cork from the bottle.

More information

The American Academy of Ophthalmology has more about eye safety.

-- Kevin McKeever

SOURCE: American Academy of Ophthalmology, news release, Dec. 8, 2008

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