Weekly challenge: protect your eyes from July 4th fireworks

AP Photo/The Republican-Herald, Jacqueline Dormer

Thinking about seeing some fireworks this 4th of July? Think safety, especially if you have children nearby. Nearly half of the 9,000 fireworks injuries in the U.S. each year occur in children under age 15.

Eyes are the most frequently injured body part—with more than 15 percent of thse injuries resulting in permanent vision loss or blindess, according to the Massachusetts Society of Eye Physicians and Surgeons. Sparklers, which typically burn at 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit, cause the most injuries often because kids handle them on their own.

Out-of-control bottle rockets cause some of the most serious eye injuries that can lead to blindness, including scratched corneas, detached retinas, and a ruptured eyeball.

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For this reason, the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends attending a professional public fireworks display instead of using fireworks on your own.

All fireworks are illegal for consumers to use in Massachusetts—including firecrackers, sparklers, and cherry bombs. If you do plan to use them in a state where they’re legal, you should follow these safety precautions, recommends the Academy.

1. Never handle fireworks without protective eyewear and ensure that all bystanders are also wearing eye protection.

2. Never let young children play with fireworks of any type. If teens are permitted to handle fireworks, ensure they are closely supervised by an adult and wear protective eyewear.

3. Clear the area of flammable materials and view fireworks from at least 500 feet away.

4. Leave the lighting of professional-grade fireworks to trained pyrotechnicians.

5. If you’re attending a professional fireworks display, make sure to stay inside the safety barrier and never touch an unexploded display.