Fireworks Safety

Did you know that 65 percent of firework injuries occur around the month surrounding July? Did you know that there were eight fireworks related deaths from homemade and illegal fireworks last year?

Firework-related injuries are most common on and around holidays associated with firework celebrations, especially July 4th and New Year's Eve.

Who is most at risk for firework-related injuries?

Males accounted for 57 perfect of injuries caused by fire crackers, novelty devices, sparklers, bottle rockets, roman candles and/or reloadable shells. Woman accounted for 43 percent of injuries and most of them were from public firework displays. People actively participating in fireworks-related activities are more frequently and severely injured than bystanders.

Below is a breakdown of injuries by age group:

  • 25-44 years of age – 33 percent
  • 10-14 years of age – 13 percent
  • 5-9 years of age – 13 percent
  • 0-4 years of age: 14 percent

What kinds of injuries can fireworks cause? 

The body parts most often injured are the hands and fingers followed by the head, face, ears and eyes.  More than half of the injuries are usually burns to all body parts except the eyes and head areas, where contusions, lacerations and foreign bodies in the eye occurred more frequent.

Firework injuries can also include blindness, third degree burns, permanent scarring and can cause life-threatening residential and motor vehicle fires.

What types of fireworks are associated with most injuries? 

Sparklers cause the most injuries and are reported as the cause for about 31 percent of injuries each year. They are also the cause of about 1/3 of the injuries to children less than five years of age.

How and why do these injuries occur? 

Availability: 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.

Fireworks type: Among the various types of fireworks, some of which are sold legally in some states, the specific type can cause certain injuries. Such as:

  • Bottle rockets can fly into peoples' faces and cause eye injuries
  • Sparklers can ignite clothing as they burn at more than 1,000°F
  • 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 safely.

Curiosity: Children are often excited and curious around fireworks, which can increase their chances of being injured. (For example, when they reexamine a firecracker dud that initially fails to ignite.)

Experimentation: Homemade fireworks can lead to dangerous and unpredictable explosions. For example, ones made of the powder from several firecrackers.

What are the laws for fireworks? 

Under the Federal Hazardous Substances Act, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission prohibits the sale of the most dangerous types of fireworks and the components intended to make them.

The banned fireworks include various large aerial devices, M-80s, quarter-sticks, half-sticks and other large firecrackers. Any firecracker with more than 50 milligrams of explosive powder and any aerial firework with more than 130 milligrams of flash powder are banned under federal law, as are mail order kits and components designed to build these fireworks.

How can fireworks injuries be prevented?

The safest way to prevent fireworks-related injuries is to leave fireworks displays to trained professionals.

Other safety tips include:

  • Never allow young children to play with or ignite any type of fireworks.
  • Avoid buying fireworks that are packaged in brown paper because this is often a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays and that they could pose a danger to consumers.
  • Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities. Parents don't realize that young children suffer injuries from all types of fireworks, including sparklers.
  • Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Remember to back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.
  • Never try to relight or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully.
  • Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
  • Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose close when setting off fireworks in case of fire or other mishap.
  • Light fireworks one at a time, then move back quickly.
  • Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.
  • After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding it to prevent a trash fire.
  • Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them.

**Source- US Consumer Product Safety Commission 2013 Firework Annual Report-www.cpsc.gov