College of Optometrist offers expert advice to help the public enjoy bonfire night safely

  • 3 Nov 2017

College of Optometrists is urging people to take a moment to think about protecting their eyes so they can enjoy the shows safely.

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Lots of us will be looking forward to the fireworks displays happening across the nation on 5 November, but as thousands of us wrap up warm and head out into the cold, the College of Optometrists is urging people to take a moment to think about protecting their eyes so they can enjoy the shows safely.

Fireworks caused over 5,000 A&E attendances in 2015-16 1, with more injuries occurring at private parties 2. Worryingly, 10 people lose their sight every year in the UK due to fireworks 3, so it is vital that people are aware of the potential dangers.

Daniel Hardiman-McCartney MCOptom, Clinical Adviser at the College of Optometrists, says: “It is vital that people consider the safety of both themselves and their friends and family when using fireworks this bonfire night. Studies suggest that eye injuries from fireworks can be avoided by wearing safety goggles 3, so this is something to be aware of if you are in hosting a fireworks party. It’s also important to remember that sparklers should only be used by children over five, and under close adult supervision. To reduce the risk of eye injuries when using sparklers, ensure each child has plenty of space around them, they hold the sparkler at arm’s length, and do not run whilst holding them. Have a bucket of water nearby so they may be disposed of safely.” 

The College of Optometrists has developed the following advice to help you enjoy bonfire night without getting hurt.

  • Visit an organised display - This is the safest way to enjoy bonfire night celebrations. 
     
  • Wear protective eye wear - if you’re going to be handling, lighting or in close proximity to fireworks you will need to wear protective goggles – normal glasses will not protect your eyes against most injuries. If you’re lighting fireworks, you should wear polycarbonate lenses – available from most DIY stores, these can be worn over your regular glasses if needed.
     
  • Do not give sparklers to children under the age of five - sparklers can be very dangerous as they become burning rods of metal once they are lit and give off sparks which can burn the eye. It’s important for everyone to enjoy sparklers safely, remember to keep your arm extended and never bring the sparkler close to your face. Ensure each child has plenty of space around them, and do not run whilst holding them. Have a bucket of water nearby so they may be disposed of safely.
     
  • Stand back - it’s important to light all fireworks at an arm’s length with a specially designed taper. Once you have lit the firework, stand well back as it launches to prevent sparks going into your eyes.
     
  • Never return to a lit firework - if you have lit a firework but it hasn’t gone off, do not return to it. It may have a damaged fuse which means it is taking longer to go off and it could explode at any time causing serious injury. 
     
  • Supervise children at all times - be vigilant to make sure they are never close to fireworks or left alone with sparklers.
     
  • Buy fireworks that meet British Standards - ensure you buy your fireworks from a reputable retailer and that they confirm to British Standards, these will be marked BS 7114 on the box.

For more information you can visit www.lookafteryoureyes.org or you pop in to your local optometrist – the eye expert on the high street.

References

1 Hospital Accident and Emergency Activity, 2015-16.

2 This is according to The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents.

3 Knox FA et al (2008) A British Ophthalmological Surveillance Unit study on serious ocular injuries from fireworks in the UK. Eye 22 (7), 944-7 [abstract]

ENDS


Notes to Editors

  1. The College is the professional body for optometry. It qualifies the profession and delivers the guidance and training to ensure optometrists provide the best possible care. We promote excellence through the College’s affixes, by building the evidence base for optometry, and raising awareness of the profession with the public, commissioners, and health care professionals.
     
  2. To find your nearest member of the College of Optometrists, visit the public directory on www.lookafteryoureyes.org
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