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Don't Loose An Eye Over Guy Fawkes!

MEDIA RELEASE FROM THE ROYAL NEW ZEALAND FOUNDATION FOR THE BLIND

The Royal New Zealand Foundation for the Blind (RNZFB) is warning New Zealanders not to loose an eye over this year's Guy Fawkes.

"Taking care of your eyes is very important at this time of the year," says Chris Inglis, RNZFB Blindness Awareness and Prevention Divisional Manager.

"Although sky rockets and fire crackers are banned, fire works are still unpredictable. They can leap up at any given angle or throw out sparks, hit a person in the face and have a lifetime effect with vision loss.

"And the risk of injury increases ten fold when fireworks are used inappropriately.

"The Foundation is very concerned that people are going blind unnecessarily through the mis-use of fireworks."

The Foundation for the Blind wants everyone to be aware of the harmful and often lifetime consequences of fireworks not being used safely. The Foundation is recommending people attend the professional community fireworks displays.

"The Foundation wants to ensure that everyone will be able to enjoy the splendor and excitement of fireworks for years to come," says Ms Inglis

"There is no real safe way to let off fireworks at home, so we are recommending that for people to enjoy Guy Fawkes they attend the organized community displays.

"However, this is not possible for everyone so in this situation there are ways you can ensure that your Guy Fawkes celebrations are as safe as possible."

Tips for Guy Fawkes at home:

* Stand your fireworks in dirt or sand, or on a firm flat surface.

* Have only one person in the area where the fireworks are being lit

* Light one firework at a time.

* Light your fireworks at arms length. Keep your body back, and reach out to light a fuse. Never light fireworks in your hand.

* Keep clear of fireworks that have been lit but have not gone off. Don't try to re-light a dud firework.

* Keep family and friends at least 15 metres away from where the fireworks are being lit.

* Never point or throw fireworks at people.

* If an accident does occur, what can you do right away to minimize the damage to the eye?

* Do not delay medical attention even for seemingly mild injuries. "Mildly" damaged areas can worsen and end in serious vision loss, even blindness, that might not have happened if treatment had occurred immediately.

* Do not rub the eye. If any eye tissue is torn, rubbing might push
out the eye's contents and cause more damage. Trying to rub the eye is an automatic response to pain, but pressure will only do more harm.

* Do not attempt to rinse out the eye. This can be even more damaging than rubbing.

* Shield the eye from pressure. Tape or secure the bottom of a foam cup, milk carton or similar shield against the bones surrounding the eye: brow, cheek and bridge of the nose.

* Do not give aspirin or non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce pain. They thin the blood and might increase bleeding.

* Do not apply ointment or any medication. It is probably not sterile.

Also, ointments make the eye area slippery. This could slow the doctor's examination at a time when every second counts.

The Foundation's Blindness Awareness and Prevention Division aims to minimise the incidence of preventable blindness in New Zealand.

ENDS

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