Fireworks Integral but Dangerous Part of Independence Day


Though fireworks are exciting and fun to watch, they can also be very dangerous, especially in the hands of untrained users or children. In 2005, approximately 10,800 people were treated in emergency rooms for fireworks-related injuries, and 60% of those injuries took place in the in the days surrounding the July 4th holiday.

In a four-week period in 2005 (June 18 to July 18), firecrackers, sparklers and bottle rockets accounted for most of those injuries seen in emergency rooms in the United States, and about 45% of those injuries were in children age 14 or younger. Males were injured more than twice as often as females. Also in 2005, four people died as a result of fireworks-related injuries, and 5% of the injuries seen in ER’s required hospitalization. Bottle rockets often fly into the user’s face, sparkler’s can ignite clothing, and firecrackers can injure one’s hands or face if they explode at close range. Not surprisingly, people actively participating in fireworks-related activities are more frequently injured and sustain more severe injuries than people just watching a fireworks display.

Fireworks-related injuries most often involve hands and fingers, eyes and the head and face. More than half of all reported fireworks injuries are burns, and burns are the most common injury to all body parts except the eyes. In the eyes, contusions, foreign bodies, and lacerations occur most frequently. These injures are often caused by user error, but many times, defective fireworks cause serious injuries, also.

Despite federal regulations and varying state prohibitions, many different types of fireworks are accessible to the public. Many fireworks distributors set up shop right at state borders, where residents of states with strict fireworks regulations can take advantage of more lenient state laws. Under the Federal Hazardous Substances Act, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission prohibits the sale of most dangerous types of fireworks and the stuff used to make them. However, despite these efforts, fireworks are acquired by inexperienced and young users, and serious accidents do happen.

Here are some suggestions to prevent fireworks-related injuries:

Be aware that all fireworks are dangerous and do not use them unless you have been trained to use them.
Attend only authorized public fireworks displays conducted by licensed operators.
Support legislation that bans the sale and usage of fireworks by children.

Fireworks can be a fun activity for the whole family if they are used properly by trained professionals. Keep your family safe this holiday week by enjoying fireworks displays at community events hosted by licensed operators.