SEARCH

Entries in Fourth of July (5)

Wednesday
Jul042012

Researchers Blast Human Eyes to Study Firework Injuries

John White Photos/Flickr/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Fireworks are a Fourth of July celebration staple. But if party planning were left up to eye doctors, they'd likely say to leave the explosions to the professionals.

Even with the myriad warnings issued each year on the risk of eye injury of at-home fireworks around the holiday, eyes are still the second most common injured part of the body. There were 1,100 eye injuries treated in the same one-month period in 2011, according to Prevent Blindness America.

But exactly what type of eye injuries are caused by fireworks? To keep people protected this Fourth of July, researchers at the Virginia Tech-Wake Forest University Center for Injury Biomechanics put a pair of eyes to the test.

Researchers inserted four different pressure sensors in each of the cadaver eyes, which were restored to simulate a living pair of eyes. They then blasted 10 grams of gunpowder 18 different times, at 22 centimeters, 12 centimeters, and 7 centimeters away from the cornea of the eyes. The researchers also tested firecrackers at different distances from the eyes.

Corneal tears were the most common injury seen at each distance. The researchers found it was most likely from tiny shards of unspent explosive debris that sprayed onto the eye. The closer the blasts, the more serious the injury, according to the study.

"We can now prove it's the impact of the projectile and not the pressure waves that can cause eye injury," said Stefan Duma, the principal study investigator and department head of biomedical engineering at Virginia Tech University.

However, a corneal tear is not the only injury of concern, according to Dr. Sandra Block, medical director of school-based vision clinics at the Illinois College of Optometry and a board member of Prevent Blindness America. In many cases, corneal tears heal over time without long-lasting effects.

"Broken bones and lacerations in and around the eye are more concerning," Block said.

Since the study used eyes that were removed from the cadaver, the researchers could not study the blast of the impact on the face and around the eyes.

Burns caused by sparklers or other fireworks held in close proximity are also common, said Block, who was not involved in the study. Children are at particular risk for these injuries since they are often given smaller fireworks including bottle rockets and firecrackers, which are highly dangerous, she said.

"Children should not be given sparklers or other novelties because they don't know enough to protect themselves," she said.

The preliminary research, funded by the Department of the Defense, aims to look at how larger explosions such as improvised explosive devices shape eye injuries in combat soldiers, Duma said.

"But our findings do have applications for consumer products," he said, adding that studying fireworks was a way for them to start small.

The findings helped researchers clarify that using goggles or an eye shield is beneficial in reducing the impact and potentially preventing eye injuries.

"If it was a blast wave that caused the injury, then a goggle might have no effect," Duma said.

Goggles may also be an important safety object for those who may be considering setting off fireworks at home this year, he said.

But according to Block, the only way to prevent eye injuries from fireworks is to leave the show to the professionals.

"There's no reason why any of that should take place," said Block. "They are all avoidable accidents."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jul022012

How to Ease a Dog's Fireworks Freakout

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Every year around the beginning of July, Gerald and Sarah Willick find their French Bullmastiffs, who weigh a combined 235 pounds, hiding in the bathtub.

The Willicks' dogs, Bosley and Roxy, are terrified of fireworks.

"They'll be panting and then when the firework goes off they'll stop," Gerald told ABC News. "They normally come up to the couch and lay down alongside the couch and alongside of us. When the fireworks get more repetitive and intense they'll actually start pacing."

That's when Bosley and Roxy work their way to the tub.

"To get them in the tub to have a bath it's almost impossible," Gerald said. "But when the fireworks are going off, they love the tub. They feel more comfortable in there."

The Willicks, from Fort Erie, Canada, get a double whammy. Their dogs head for the tub each year on July 1 when fireworks are set off to celebrate Canada Day. But because they live so close to the United States border, the Willicks have to deal with fireworks on July 4, too.

One possible solution for the Willicks could be the Thundershirt, a product for dogs that provides a dramatic calming effect with the use of gentle, constant pressure.

Phil Blizzard, the creator of the Thundershirt, had tried everything from training to sedatives to calm his golden doodle Dosi's fear of thunder and fireworks. After countless nights of Dosi keeping the family awake, Blizzard needed a new solution. A friend suggested putting a tight wrap around Dosi's chest.

"It didn't make very much sense to me," Blizzard told ABC News. "But one night with a 50 pound dog on my chest, my wife was like, 'We're trying this.' When the wrap "worked like a charm," there was no turning back for Blizzard and the Thundershirt was born. The company launched in May 2009 and has a success rate of 80 percent, Blizzard said. The shirt is made out of durable, washable fabric and comes in seven sizes at a cost of $39.95.

"We've had probably three returns and we've sold hundreds," a store employee at Friendly Paws Pet Supplies and Grooming in Athens, Ohio told ABC News.

"So many dogs do suffer from anxiety, it's one of the biggest concerns people have when they come in," an employee at The New York Dog Shop in Manhattan said.

According to a survey sponsored by Thundershirt, 13 percent of dogs have a significant fear of fireworks.

For some dogs, it could require two to three uses before they become comfortable with a Thundershirt, Blizzard said.

Cesar Millan, who stars in the Nat Geo WILD reality show The Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan, advises using the shirt before a dog gets too anxious. On an anxiety scale of one-to-ten, dog owners should try to use the shirt early.

"You want to catch it from zero-to-five," Millan told ABC News. "If you're 5-10 you have to come out with another thing before you use the Thundershirt. They work, you just have to know how to use the tool. All tools are great you just have to learn how to use them."

Sarah Perkins, a dog owner and groomer, said the Thundershirt doesn't work if she doesn't use it early enough on her pitbull, Rucca. But when she gets it on right, the Thundershirt is a success for Rucca, who is terrified of everything from storms to car rides.

"He tries to crawl in my pocket. He is a wreck," Perkins told ABC News. "He sits there and pants and tries to hide anywhere he can and shakes. If you put the shirt on him he'll lay on the bed. There is a definite difference when he has the shirt on."

But why is it that 50 pound dogs think they are lap dogs when fireworks go off?

"The ears of dogs are very sensitive," Millan told ABC News. "Dogs get over stimulated often by sounds."

Another problem is that most dogs do not get enough physical challenge. The majority of dogs in America walk an average of 15-20 minutes a day, Millan said. In order to remain calm, they need much more than that.

"A dog spends too much time behind walls without going outside to drain energy," Millan said. "Their level of frustration is so high that it will take loud sounds to have a nervous breakdown"

Millan advises to act more like a paramedic to your dog than a family member when it is freaking out over thunder or fireworks. When taking care of others, paramedics stay very calm. You staying calm is the key to your buddy staying calm.

"Dogs can pick up on your vibe," Millan said. "They are wondering why you are getting so concerned, upset, bothered. Then the sound comes and they think 'oh that's what it was.'"

For more tips on how to relax your dog, visit Millan's website. The Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan returns to Nat Geo WILD for the 9th and final season on July 7 at 8 pm ET/PT.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jul042011

Men and Their Fireworks: Exploring the Joy of Explosives

Photos.com/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- "Ka-boom is a bigger-than-life spectacle. To a certain degree, we're all enamored with it. Boys are just more overt about it."

This is Dick Wechsler's take on the joy of explosives and the timeless—and often ageless—allure that comes with them. Wechsler, 58, owns an ad agency in Westchester County, N.Y., and as the father of four boys, he's no stranger to the male fascination with things that go boom.

Fireworks have long been a hallmark of the Fourth of July and even though people of all genders and ages attend the displays and participate in the backyard launches, there is a uniquely male affection for blowing things up. Conversations with men ranging from ages 16 to 60 suggest that it is an understatement, at the very least, to say that boys are more overt about their fascination.
 
A few of the explosive experiments attempted by these men included putting fireworks in mailboxes, filling a friend's back pocket with a bundle of lit fireworks, and strapping firecrackers to G.I. Joes and then dousing them with lighter fluid before lighting them on fire. This last activity was followed by a search for their body parts to see how much damage was done.

With tantalizing names like "whistling moon travelers," "black cats" and "Roman candles," it's not difficult to see the attraction.

"Excitement, adrenaline and a rush," explained Elias Wechsler, 16, one of Dick Wechsler's four sons.

But this excitement is not restricted to young men. When Hans Hesselein, 30, answered the phone to be interviewed, sounds of explosions could be heard in the background.

"That's my brother lighting off fireworks," he laughed, mid-afternoon on the Friday before the Fourth of July. "I think it has something to do with destruction being a form of creation," Hesselein said.

Michael Diamond is a clinical professor of psychiatry at UCLA and an expert on male development. He says there are various explanations for this love of explosives.
 
"The biologically oriented would suggest it has something to do with testosterone that has to be expressed," Diamond said. "Boys are often encouraged to suppress their nervous energy in social settings, like school."

Diamond suggests that the explosions are ways of releasing this pent-up energy in a way that provides instant gratification.
 
He also presented a more Freudian view that the fireworks represent "a repressed sexual dimension," with rockets as very phallic symbols.

"The explosion kind of represents that discharge," Diamond said. "There are a lot of sensory aspects to these explosions, a lot of discharge for things that aren't socially acceptable."

Whatever the reason, it's easy to guess what a lot of men will be doing on the 4th.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jul042011

Calories Galore: Eating Pros Square Off at Hot Dog Eating Contest

ABC News(BROOKLYN, N.Y.) -- Every city in America has its way of proving its patriotism this July 4th but the country unites in that most gluttonous of festivals: The 96th Nathan's Famous Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest in Coney Island. It is a spectacle of spittle.

Even in an era of obesity awareness, the hot dog contest endures. Reigning champion Joey Chestnut once ate a record 68 hot dogs and buns, the equivalent of 21,000 calories, in 10 minutes.

"I love hot dogs," Chestnut said. "There's a couple of foods that if you see me eat them in a contest, you can tell I like them. Grilled cheese sandwiches, chicken wings, ribs, hot dogs, hamburgers, pizza. I mean those, they go down like I was made to eat them."

Chestnut of San Jose, Calif., has won the contest in Brooklyn, N.Y., the past four years. Before that, Takeru Kobayashi won six consecutive years. Kobayashi split from Major League Eating and plans to stage his own show in Manhattan.

For the first time this year, Nathan's will sponsor separate competitions for men and women. The top female eater is 100-pound Sonya Thomas of Alexandria, Va., who last year ate 41 hot dogs and buns.

The contest is gross; so gross you can't help but watch, and thousands of spectators are expected to crowd the corner of Stillwell and Surf Avenues in front of the original Nathan's Famous hot dog stand.

The contest requires eaters to consume the entire hot dog and bun. They can drink in between to moisten the path but buns cannot be softened by dunking in water.

Any "reversal of fortune," Major League Eating's term for vomiting, results in an automatic disqualification.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Jul022011

Study: Fourth of July Celebrators More Likely to Become Republicans

Photodisc(CAMBRIDGE, Mass.) -- Attending a Fourth of July fireworks display or flag waving parade as a child slightly increases the likelidhood that that kid will grow up to vote Republican, according to a study a team of Harvard University researchers.

Even a single July 4 celebration boosts the chance of turning a kid into a Republican, the study claims.

"One Fourth of July without rain before age 18 increases the likelihood of identifying as a Republican at age 40 by 2 percent, the share of people voting for the Republican candidate at age 40 by 4 percent, and the share of people turning out to vote at age 40 by 0.9 percent," the study concludes.

The findings leave some questions unanswered, a contention that David Yanagizawa-Drott, the assistant professor of public policy of Harvard University's Kennedy School who co-wrote the study with Andreas Madestam of Bocconi University, seems to acknowledge.

One thing not addressed in the report is that nearly every kid in America attends Fourth of July celebrations, but the Republican Party is a minority party.

Calls to Democratic officials were not returned because they had left their offices early to celebrate the Fourth of July.

The researchers are sticking by their conclusions.

Yanagizawa-Drott told ABC News that they cannot be sure why the trend exists, but said "the celebration of Fourth of July embodies certain ideas or values that are closer to the Republican Party. This in turn affects how children experience the event."

"While our study enables us to identify the existence of these effects, it is much more difficult to disentangle which interpretation is more plausible," Yanagizawa-Drott said in an email to ABC News. "There could, of course, be other explanations that are consistent with our findings. This is something that warrants further research."

He said they conducted the study because, "We were interested in understanding whether important social events during childhood could form one's identity and political views later in life. Given the popularity and historical importance of Fourth of July celebrations, we thought this was a highly interesting event to study."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio