Every year in the United States, we celebrate
the Fourth of July with community parades, picnics, barbecues, and
fireworks - the things of which happy memories are made. But sadly,
Independence Day also includes tragic events resulting from fireworks
use. On Independence Day in a typical year, far more U.S. Fires
are reported than on any other day, and fireworks account for more than
half of those fires, more than any other cause of fires. The safest way to enjoy them is through
public displays conducted by professional pyrotechnicians hired by
Who is at Most Risk?
In 2010, U.S. hospital emergency rooms treated
an estimated 8,600 people
for fireworks-related injuries. 73 percent
of these injuries occurred between June 18 - July 18. Of these:
65 percent were to males and 35 percent
were to females.
Children under 15 years old accounted for
40 percent of the estimated injuries.
Children and young adults under 20 years
old had 53 percent of the estimated injuries.
An estimated 900 injuries were associated
with firecrackers. Of these, an estimated 30 percent were associated
with small firecrackers, 17 percent with illegal firecrackers, and
53 percent where the type of firecracker was not specified.
An estimated 1,200 injuries were
associated with sparklers and 400 with bottle rockets.
The parts of the body most often injured
were hands and fingers (30 percent), legs (22 percent), eyes (21
percent), and head, face, and ears (16 percent).
More than half of the injuries were burns.
Burns were the most common injury to all parts of the body except
the eyes, where contusions, lacerations, and foreign bodies in the
eye occurred more frequently.
Most patients were treated at the
emergency department and then released. An estimated 7 percent of
patients were treated and transferred to another hospital or
admitted to the hospital.
In 2009, U.S. hospital emergency rooms
treated an estimated 8,800 people for fireworks related injuries.
18,000 fires were caused by fireworks in
2009 resulting in $38 million in direct property loss, including
1,300 structure fires, 400 vehicle fires, and 16,300 outside and
"Safe and sane" fireworks are neither. Fireworks and sparklers
are designed to explode or throw off showers of hot sparks.
Temperatures may exceed 1,200 degrees F for fireworks. The tip
of a sparkler burns at a temperature of about 2,000 degrees F.
This is hot enough to melt some metals and cause third degree burns.
FACT: As of 2009, the following four states have banned access
by the public to all fireworks: Delaware, Massachusetts, New
Jersey and New York.
Sources: Consumer Product
Safety Commission, National Fire Protection Association and the
United States Fire Administration.
How and Why Do These Injuries
In spite of federal regulations and varying state
prohibitions, many types of fireworks are still
accessible to the public. Distributors often sell
fireworks near state borders, where laws prohibiting
sales on either side of the border may differ.
Among the various types of fireworks, some of which
are sold legally in some states, bottle rockets can
fly into peoples' faces and cause eye injuries;
sparklers can ignite clothing (sparklers burn at
about 2,000°F); and firecrackers can injure the
hands or face if they explode at close range.
Being too close:
Injuries may result from being too close to
fireworks when they explode; for example, when
someone leans over to look more closely at a
firework that has been ignited, or when a misguided
bottle rocket hits a nearby person.
Lack of physical
coordination: Younger children often lack
the physical coordination to handle fireworks
Children are often excited and curious around
fireworks, which can increase their chances of being
injured (for example, when they re-examine a
firecracker dud that initially fails to ignite).
Homemade fireworks (for example, ones made of the
powder from several firecrackers) can lead to
dangerous and unpredictable explosions.
What Can I Do?
The best way to protect your
family is not to use any fireworks at home -
public fireworks displays and leave the lighting to