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Keven Moore: As New Year’s Eve celebration looms, be careful of those flying champagne corks

If your New Year’s Eve plans this year includes shaking up a good bottle of champagne, popping the cork with two thumbs, and spraying nearby partygoers in a wild frenzy as you bring in the New Year you might want to reconsider. Popping open a bottle of champagne always seems very glamorous on TV, but if you’ve done it in real life, it can cause a serious injury.

The fact is every year multiple people are injured while opening a bottle of Champagne and some have even lost sight within an eye. Just recently this year MTV star Theo Campbell experienced this first hand when he posted on Instagram that he experienced an unfortunate accident with a champagne cork and left him unable to see in one eye.

Theo said that his right eye was split and that he’s lost all vision in that eye after an unspecified injury with a champagne cork. He later went on to say …”So yeah basically 2 eye surgeries later after a really unfortunate accident, I’ve lost all vision in my right eye as it got split in half, who would have thought a champagne cork would be the end of me,” he wrote.

In addition to causing severe morning headaches bottles of champagne and improper cork-removal techniques do cause serious, potentially blinding eye injuries each year, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Champagne bottles contain pressure as high as 90 pounds per square inch — more than 3 times the pressure found inside a typical car tire.

When you look at the physics involved, it’s not hard to see how a flying cork could do so much harm. This pressure can launch a champagne cork at 50 miles per hour as it leaves the bottle and can travel some 50 feet away and unfortunately, can permanently damage yours or someone else’s vision.

Champagne cork mishaps can lead to a variety of serious eye injuries, including rupture of the eye-wall, acute glaucoma, retinal detachment, ocular bleeding, dislocation of the lens, and damage to the eye’s bone structure. These injuries sometimes require urgent eye surgeries like stitching of the eye-wall or repair of the orbital structure, and can even lead to blindness in the affected eye.

Warm bottles of champagne and improper cork-removal techniques cause serious, potentially blinding eye injuries each year, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

In fact, multiple internet sources claim that actual fatalities have occurred by being hit by champagne corks; usually in the face during weddings, parties and other celebrations. However, I question the validity of these claims and was unable to verify this with any reputable sources, but I think you get my point.

As your riskologist let me suggest for a safe celebration this New Year’s Eve, you follow the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s simple tips on how to properly open a bottle of champagne:

•  Chill sparkling wine and champagne to 45 degrees Fahrenheit or colder before opening. The cork of a warm bottle is more likely to pop unexpectedly.

• Don’t shake the bottle. Shaking increases the speed at which the cork leaves the bottle thereby increasing your chances of severe eye injury.

• Point the bottle at a 45-degree angle away from yourself and any bystanders and hold down the cork with the palm of your hand while removing the wire hood on the bottle.

•  Place a towel over the entire top of the bottle and grasp the cork.

• Twist the bottle while holding the cork at a 45-degree angle to break the seal. Counter the force of the cork using downward pressure as the cork breaks free from the bottle.

If you experience an eye injury from a champagne cork, seek immediate medical attention from an ophthalmologist — an eye physician and surgeon.

Be Safe My Friends

Keven Moore works in risk management services. He has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Kentucky, a master’s from Eastern Kentucky University and 25-plus years of experience in the safety and insurance profession. He is also an expert witness. He lives in Lexington with his family and works out of both Lexington and Northern Kentucky. Keven can be reached at kmoore@roeding.com.Keven can be reached at kmoore@roeding.com.

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