Eye doctors want N.D. to ban bottle rocketsNorth Dakota eye doctors are making a renewed push for a ban on bottle rockets, saying the tiny missiles are dangerous and can cause catastrophic eye injuries and prairie fires.
By: By Dale Wetzel, The Associated Press, The Jamestown Sun
BISMARCK — North Dakota eye doctors are making a renewed push for a ban on bottle rockets, saying the tiny missiles are dangerous and can cause catastrophic eye injuries and prairie fires.
Paul Dunderland, a Bottineau optometrist, said he has seen eye injuries caused by “metal, tree branches, tarp straps, paint balls, curling irons, ammonia, nails, knives and others.” But he said that by far, “the most visually devastating injuries have been those caused by bottle rockets.”
Dunderland said he has had three teenage boys as patients in recent years who suffered permanent eye injuries from wayward fireworks.
The North Dakota Senate’s Political Subdivisions Committee endorsed the proposed ban Thursday, approving a bill that says fireworks dealers may not sell or give away bottle rockets. The Senate will vote on the measure later.
If the Legislature approves the bill, it would take effect Aug. 1, after this year’s fireworks season. The bill prohibits only bottle rocket sales and giveaways; it does not prohibit someone from possessing bottle rockets or shooting them off.
Jane Breyer, general manager of Generous Jerry’s Fireworks of Grand Forks, argued that it is possible to shoot bottle rockets safely. She sells protective eyewear at her stores, distributes safety instructions and does not sell bottle rockets to anyone younger than 16, she said.
Accidents result when customers do reckless things, such as throwing bottle rockets or shooting them at each other, Breyer said.
“Those percent of the people are maybe 3 or 4 percent of the population, that is doing things the wrong way,” Breyer said. “What about the rest of the population? Why should they be punished for following the proper procedures of lighting fireworks off?”
Bruce Levi, a spokesman for the North Dakota Society of Eye Physicians and Surgeons, said most states have banned bottle rocket sales because of their potential to cause injuries. Bottle rockets can fly very fast and erratically, and are prone to ricochet off other objects, Levi said.
Levi and Lois Hartman, director of the North Dakota Firefighter’s Association, said bottle rockets are also a fire hazard.
“When they start a fire, firefighters have to leave their families and their family celebrations and go fight the fire,” Hartman said. “They are a nuisance as far as the fire service is concerned, because they do start fires.”
The bill is SB2366.