Celebrating 4th of July Safely: How to Protect Your Eyes from Fireworks

As fireworks light up the sky this Fourth of July, it’s important to follow proper safety measures to protect your vision. Over 9,000 people are sent to the emergency room due to firework-related injuries, with 15% of those being eye injuries. The National Safety Council and the Consumer Product Safety Commission encourage the public to leave fireworks up to the experts, but if you choose to buy consumer fireworks, follow these safety tips to protect your eyes:

  • Wear safety glasses when setting off fireworks.
  • Ensure everyone is at a safe distance of at least 500 feet.
  • Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
  • Don’t hover – never place any part of the body directly over a firework when lighting.
  • Place all failed or faulty fireworks (“duds”) in water before discarding.
  • Always have an adult supervise children with sparklers and other flammable objects.

When to Seek Medical Help

The American Academy of Ophthalmology declares any eye injury caused by a firework a medical emergency. Firework-related eye injuries can include blunt force trauma, heat burns and chemical exposure. If an eye-related injury does occur, take the following steps to prevent further damage:

  • Seek medical attention immediately.
  • Do not rub or rinse your eyes.
  • Do not apply pressure.
  • Refrain from removing any object that may be stuck in the eye.
  • Consult a doctor before applying ointments or taking pain medication.

Enjoy the Show

If you plan to attend a professional fireworks display, make sure to:

  • Respect safety barriers, follow all safety instructions, and view fireworks from at least 500 feet away.
  • Abstain from touching unexploded fireworks. Instead, immediately contact local fire or police departments to help.

If you choose to celebrate this holiday with fireworks at home, make sure to follow the safety measures before use. It’s important to note that the best way to avoid a potentially blinding fireworks injury is by attending professional, public firework shows rather than purchasing fireworks for at-home use.


The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission


American Academy of Ophthalmology