Fireworks Eye Safety Month is observed in June every year. Fireworks are part of many celebrations worldwide, but they can hurt you if you don’t take precautions. Injuries to the eyes are common. These injuries may result in permanent damage causing blindness. Chemical and thermal burns could lead to partial blindness or chronic eye problems. In some severe cases, fireworks cause fatal injuries. Fortunately, you can avoid this by observing some basic safety measures. Small things like keeping a distance, wearing protective glasses, and keeping a fire extinguisher close at hand could prevent injuries and save you a trip to the hospital.
History of Fireworks Eye Safety Month
Fireworks originated in east Asia around 200 B.C. The ancient Chinese wrote on bamboo parchment. To make this parchment, they dried out bamboo stalks over an open flame, and when they got too hot, the air pockets in the stalks would explode with a loud bang. It’s believed that they used these natural fireworks to scare off bandits who roamed the mountains and ward off evil spirits. Sometime between 600 A.D. and 900 A.D., the Chinese invented gunpowder. They packed gunpowder inside bamboo stalks — and later, tubes made of stiff paper — introducing the first manufactured fireworks to the world.
In Europe, fireworks made their debut in the mid 13th century. Historians believe they were introduced to the continent by the Mongols, who brought gunpowder weapons with them from China. Roger Bacon, an English monk, described seeing firecrackers in 1267. Italians were the first Europeans to manufacture fireworks and the first to figure out how to make them display different colors. By the 15th century, fireworks were part of national and religious ceremonies. Nobles enjoyed using fireworks to entertain their subjects and show off the beauty of their castles on special occasions.
European settlers brought fireworks with them when they came to the U.S., incorporating them into Independence Day celebrations. 18th-century American politicians also used fireworks to attract crowds to listen to their campaign speeches. Modern fireworks are used in festivals worldwide, from carnivals and sports events to Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and Diwali celebrations.
Fireworks Eye Safety Month timeline
The first natural Chinese firecrackers are made from bamboo stalks and thrown into fires to ward off evil with their loud bangs.
The first manufactured firecrackers are crafted from hollowed-out bamboo shoots filled with gunpowder.
Fireworks come to Europe and are used in religious ceremonies and public entertainment.
Fireworks make their debut in America at the Independence Day celebrations.
Fireworks Eye Safety Month FAQs
Can fireworks damage eyes?
Yes, fireworks can cause permanent eye damage by rupturing the eyeballs, causing chemical and thermal burns, and corneal abrasions or retinal detachment.
How can you protect your eyes from fireworks?
Wear protective eye gear such as safety glasses, and maintain a barrier between yourself and the fireworks.
What should you do if a spark hits your eye?
Run cool water over your eye for at least 15 to 20 minutes before doing anything else; you can also use a saline solution from an eyewash kit.
How to Observe Fireworks Eye Safety Month
Educate children and teenagers
Most fireworks-related injuries occur in children and teenagers. Even fireworks considered safe for children, like sparklers, burn at 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit and can cause severe injuries if mishandled. Educate your children and other children in your community on the importance of safety when handling fireworks.
Buy safety equipment
June is the perfect time to stock up on safety equipment, particularly eye protection. Try them on and get a feel of them so it won’t feel strange. You can also shop for coveralls, hard hats, and work boots.
Know your fireworks
Fireworks are explosives. Only experts should handle some types and models. Do your research to know what’s safe for home and what’s better off at theme parks, concerts, or carnivals. Most people should stick to consumer fireworks made for the general public.
5 Flashy Facts About Fireworks
The Royal Wedding
The first documented use of fireworks in the U.K. occurred in 1486, at the royal wedding of King Henry VII and Elizabeth of York.
Thousands go off in just one day
According to the American Pyrotechnics Association, over 14,000 fireworks light up the skies on the Fourth of July.
Different elements, different colors
Strontium and lithium make red fireworks, titanium, and magnesium produce silver, sodium makes yellow fireworks, and copper makes blue — reportedly the most complex color.
Fireworks were a mistake
Alchemists in ancient China were trying to brew an elixir granting immortality; when they mixed sulfur, charcoal, and saltpeter, they inadvertently created gunpowder — the main ingredient in the first manufactured fireworks.
Chemistry in motion
When you break it down, those colorful explosions you see are a chemical reaction between an oxidizer, a fuel source, and a mixture of elements that produce the colors we love.
Why Fireworks Eye Safety Month is Important
Having fun responsibly
Don’t let negligence or lousy luck ruin your festivities. Fireworks displays should leave you feeling awed and entertained, not rushing to the nearest hospital to treat a medical emergency.
Fireworks safety affects all of us
Did you know that 65% of people injured by fireworks are bystanders? Even if you’re not the one handling the explosives, you’re still at risk. This sobering statistic shows how important it is for everyone to take precautions when fireworks are near.
Prevention is better than cure
Many people think fireworks are relatively harmless, although they are essentially explosives. Spreading awareness about the importance of safety and the dangers of improper handling helps prevent thousands of injuries caused by fireworks each year.
Fireworks Eye Safety Month dates