Eye safety on bonfire night
Protect your sight on fireworks night
Bonfire night is the perfect opportunity to gather neighbours, friends and family for an outside (and COVID safe) fireworks display at home. Fireworks and sparklers are now widely available to buy for use at home, and whilst most people are aware of the risks involved in firing fireworks, eye safety is often overlooked.
Around 10 people lose their sight every year from accidents involving fireworks and it’s estimated that a third of all accidents involving fireworks lead to eye injury.
If you’re hosting your own display this year, it’s worth taking the time to consider safety measures to prevent eye injury. Young eyes are particularly at risk and additional precautions should be taken if your party includes children.
Iain Anderson, Chairman of The Eyecare Trust explains: “Eye damage caused by fireworks is often severe and can lead to permanently reduced vision or even blindness, so the Trust is urging people to take extra care – especially the under 18 year olds who are most at risk of injury.”
In this article, we’ll share the best advice to help you protect the sight of you and your loved ones on bonfire night.
Eye protection for fireworks night
Protective safety goggles are a quick and easy way to protect your eyes if you are going to be handling or lighting fireworks. We recommend using safety goggles with polycarbonate lenses; these are available to buy from us in-store and are widely available at hardware and DIY stores.
It is vital that people consider the safety of both themselves and their family this bonfire night. If you are using fireworks at home, remember to wear safety goggles and follow the firework code.”
Daniel Hardiman-McCartney FCOptom, Clinical Adviser at the College of Optometrists.
Normal spectacles don’t provide adequate protection from fireworks and can actually cause more eye injury if the worst were to happen. If you need to wear glasses to enjoy fireworks night, it’s better to wear safety goggles over your normal spectacles.
The Eyecare Trust’s SPARKLER code is designed to help prevent avoidable eye injuries on fireworks night:
- Shield your eyes with protective eyewear when lighting fireworks
- Plunge sparklers into a bucket of cold water as soon as they have burnt out
- Attend properly organised displays wherever possible
- Read the instructions on the fireworks with a torch and follow them carefully
- Keep all fireworks in a closed metal box and only light one at a time
- Leave fireworks that fail to go off – never return to a lit firework
- Ensure everyone stands a safe distance away when the fireworks fired
- Remove all debris and flammable objects from your firework display area
How to use sparklers safely
When you have children, no fireworks night is complete without a few sparklers!
Whilst they may seem like the most innocent of fireworks, they should be treated with the same respect as any others. When lit, sparklers reach temperatures of up to 2000°C and give off sparks which can burn the eye.
It’s thought that 10% of firework related injuries are caused by sparklers.
- Don’t give sparklers to children under the age of five
- Keep your arm extended when waving a sparkler
- Never bring the sparkler close to your face
- Ensure each child has plenty of space around them
- Don’t let children run whilst holding a sparkler
- Never leave children alone with sparklers
- Have a bucket of water nearby so they may be disposed of safely
What to do if a firework causes an eye injury
If the worst happens and a firework causes an eye injury, it’s important to act quickly:
- Seek immediate medical attention, even if the injury appears mild. Acting quickly can minimise any long-term eye damage. Go to A&E or call 999 and ask for an ambulance.
- Don’t rub or rinse the eye, or apply any ointments to the eye area. If you do, it could increase the damage and make it more difficult for a specialist to provide treatment.
For more information or further non-urgent advice, speak to one of our experienced members of staff on 01273 843946 or call in to the Hassocks Eyecare Centre.