Lubbock eye surgeon warns against fireworks tragedies

Published: Jun. 28, 2023 at 10:49 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Fourth of July events are fun for the whole family, but it’s important to be safe, so your loved ones don’t end up in the Emergency Room.

Dr. Kelly Mitchell is an Ophthalmologist at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center.

He says there are about 9,000 fireworks injuries every year and among those, about a thousand of them affect the eye.

Sadly, it’s often a child who suffers.

“Roughly 30% of those are children and will have significant weakness of their vision and in fact sometimes a loss of complete vision or even loss of the eye,” Mitchell said.

Dr. Mitchell says the easiest way to avoid an injury is to let the professionals handle the fireworks show.

But if your plans include a trip to the fireworks stand, he says plan your evening with some rules before the fireworks are lit.

His suggestion, “We should say okay, we’re going to do fireworks at this time of the evening. We’re going to do it in this area. We have water that’s close by. We’re not lighting the fireworks next to a pile of the other fireworks. We don’t have flammable liquids. We’re not doing it next to a part of the house.”

Dr. Mitchell says he believes anyone handling fireworks should at least be driving age and always be wearing goggles. He has saved a pair of battered goggles that he believes prevented a patient from a fireworks eye injury.

The patient came into the Emergency Room after shooting off fireworks and Mitchell explains, “He just experienced really some singed eyebrow hair and and some minor skin burns of his cheek, but his eyelids and eyes were completely protected.”

Even inexpensive goggles under $10 can offer protection for your eyes in the event of a fireworks accident. Dr. Mitchell adds that it’s certainly worth the effort to get smaller goggles for children to use, too, if they are going to be around fireworks.

He says most people think that sparklers are safe for kids to enjoy. But the truth is it’s hard to predict what could happen when holding a stick that burns at about 2000 degrees. He adds this about sparklers, “it burns at about the temperature of of 10 times that of boiling water.”