COLUMBUS — Galion is still planning a public Independence Day fireworks display on July 4.
But many communities have cancelled Fourth of July activities, including fireworks due to the COVID-19 pandemic and necessary social distancing. Prevent Blindness is warning that innocent people will likely get hurt if Ohioans replace this loss by conducting their own backyard fireworks displays.
Did you know?
Discharging backyard fireworks in Ohio is illegal. 1.4 g fireworks, including firecrackers and bottle rockets, may not be legally discharged within Ohio by anyone other than a licensed exhibitor. The only items that can be legally purchased by the public and used in Ohio are designated as “trick and novelty” which smoke, snap, snake or sparkle – easily remembered as the “4 S’s.”
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) Fireworks Report, estimated that in 2018, an estimated 9,100 Americans were injured by fireworks with 62% occurring around the one month period surrounding the Fourth of July holiday.
Last year 1,729 fireworks injuries were to the eye and according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, approximately one third of eye injuries from fireworks result in permanent blindness.
Nearly half of all fireworks injuries are to innocent bystanders –many of them children.
Of the 9,100 fireworks-related injuries last year, 36 percent of those injuries were to children under the age of 15, or nearly 3,276 children.
Sparklers accounted for an estimated 500 emergency department-treated injuries, which represents 14 percent of the total fireworks-related injuries. The population most affected by these injuries was children under age 5. Most sparkler injuries were to the eye.
Fireworks cause over 17,000 fires nationwide each year and tens of millions of dollars in damage. According to the Ohio State Fire Marshal’s Office, in 2018 there were 76 fire incidents involving fireworks reported, with an estimated $319,921 in property loss and $50,150 in content loss.
Prevent Blindness believes that there is no safe way to use fireworks and supports the development and enforcement of bans on the importation, sale and use of all fireworks and sparklers, except those used in authorized public displays by competent licensed operators. Prevent Blindness facilitates the Ohio Fireworks Safety Coalition and Ohioans Against Fireworks whose member organizations educate the public on the dangers of consumer fireworks and endorse public policies to help protect adults and children from needless injuries from fireworks.
In addition to the many healthcare and safety groups that oppose fireworks legalization, other opponents are animal advocates that report that dog shelters are overrun around the Fourth of July with dogs that have been startled by fireworks discharges and run off. Farmers similarly express concerns as fireworks can startle cattle and other livestock or cause damage to crops. Veterans suffering from PTSD endure symptoms and stress brought on by fireworks discharge.
“The Fourth of July can still be fun without backyard fireworks or sparklers,” said Sherry Williams, President & CEO of the Ohio Affiliate of Prevent Blindness. “Not only will you avoid a tragic visit to the emergency room yourself, you will also respect the time, effort and PPE resources available for patients affected by COVID-19 and other health needs.”
For more information on the dangers of fireworks, please call Prevent Blindness, Ohio Affiliate at (800) 301-2020 or visit preventblindness.org/prevent-eye-injuries-fireworks.