For most people, ringing in the New Year means celebrating with friends and family, champagne toasts and cheer, but if you get hit in the eye with a champagne cork, it may mean a trip to the emergency room.
Every year, improper cork-removal techniques cause serious, potentially blinding eye damage. A champagne cork can fly up to 50 miles per hour as it leaves the bottle - fast enough to shatter glass. At such high speeds, there is no time to react and guard against eye injury.
The Minnesota Academy of Ophthalmology offers some tips on opening a bottle of bubbly correctly to avoid flying corks in the first place:
- Make sure sparkling wine is chilled to at least 45 degrees Fahrenheit before opening. The cork of a warm bottle is more likely to pop unexpectedly.
- Don't shake the bottle. Shaking increases your chances of eye injury.
- To open the bottle safely, hold down the cork with the palm of your hand while removing the wire hood. Point the bottle at a 45-degree angle away from yourself and from any bystanders.
- Place a towel over the entire top of the bottle and grasp the cork.
- Keep the bottle at a 45-degree angle as you slowly and firmly twist the bottle while holding the cork to break the seal. Continue to hold the cork while twisting the bottle. Continue until the cork is almost out of the neck. Counter the force of the cork using slight downward pressure just as the cork breaks free from the bottle.
- Never use a corkscrew to open a bottle of champagne or sparkling wine.
So, let's toast to a safe, amazing New Year, filled with promise and good health!