TO MEDIA: Mr. Urquhart, Wills Eye Hospital Physicians and Fire Officials are all available for interviews. Photo available of Mr. Urquhart’s severe eye injuries from fireworks. Photo courtesy of Rasaan Urquhart.
Newswise — PHILADELPHIA, PA: Ophthalmologists from Wills Eye Hospital are teaming up with Philadelphia Fire Department Officials throughout the big holiday week this week to send the all- important public safety message to always leave fireworks to the professionals and not risk devastating injuries to your eyes, hands or the rest of your body.
The warning is especially important this year because of a recently revised Pennsylvania law that expands access to purchasing fireworks and certain explosives. Each year, close to 19,000 reported fires are caused by fireworks. Doctors are once again reminding the public that fireworks are not toys. Despite the popularity of consumer fireworks, the devices can cause blindness and disfigurement and each year prompt severe injuries across the nation including corneal burns, ruptured eyeballs, retinal detachments and more.
“The public needs to be aware that consumer-bought fireworks can cause very serious injuries,” said Dr. Anna Murchison, Director of the Wills Eye Emergency Department “When these devices are burning at around 2000 degrees Fahrenheit, store-bought fireworks – including those innocent-looking sparklers – can quickly have harmful consequences for your eyesight and cause life-changing injuries,” Murchison said.
25 year old Rasaan Urquhart of Philadelphia learned the hard way. Mr. Urquhart had been injured at a neighborhood celebration right after the Eagles’ Super Bowl win this past February. “My girlfriend and I were down the street from where we live. Suddenly, someone started lighting fireworks nearby and couldn’t get one started. I went over to help but right at that moment, a firework hit me in the face. I didn’t feel anything at first, but then all I saw was blood. It was a shocker. Right then and there, I knew I was going to be blind right away. I felt a heat sensation like my face was blown off. I lost all my vision in my left eye from that injury. Knowing that I have two young children – I was scared I was going to jeopardize what I could do with my kids.”
Mr. Urquhart is doing much better today but he wants to serve as an example to others to not take the risk. He still struggles with blurriness in his remaining eye. He was also a volunteer firefighter in Bucks County, Pennsylvania and, since his injury, he has not been on duty at the fire house.
How is Mr. Urquhart planning to celebrate this year’s Fourth of July? “I’m not sure yet – but it’s not going to be around any amateur fireworks shows.” His message: Go out and have fun, but be safe when it comes to fireworks. Think about what you’re doing - before you do it.”
Doctors and fire officials offer the following safety tips:
- For those who attend public shows, keep a safe distance of at least 500 feet at all times
- Never touch or use unexploded fireworks.
- If you are injured by any type of explosive, seek medical attention immediately.
Wills Eye Hospital is once again preparing for what can be the busiest time of the year for its emergency room with fireworks-related injuries. The Wills Eye Emergency Room is the region's only emergency care eye center. The hospital’s state-of-the-art emergency care facility is open 365 days a year, 7 days a week and has a full staff to manage all eye emergencies.
About Wills Eye Hospital
Wills Eye Hospital is a global leader in ophthalmology, established in 1832 as the nation’s first hospital specializing in eye care. U.S. News & World Report consistently ranks Wills Eye as one of America’s top ophthalmology centers since the survey began in 1990. Wills Eye is a premier training site for all levels of medical education. Its resident and post-graduate training programs are among the most competitive in the country. Wills provides the full range of primary and subspecialty eye care for improving and preserving sight, including cataract, cornea, emergency care, glaucoma, neuro-ophthalmology, ocular oncology, oculoplastics, pathology, pediatric ophthalmology and ocular genetics, refractive surgery and retina. To learn more, please visit www.willseye.org