Fireworks Safety and Facts
How can fireworks injuries be prevented?
- The safest way to prevent fireworks-related injuries is to leave fireworks displays to trained professionals.
How big is the problem?
- In 2006, eleven people died and an estimated 9,200 were treated in emergency departments for fireworks-related injuries in the United States.
- An estimated 5% of fireworks-related injuries treated in emergency departments required hospitalization.
Who is most at risk for fireworks-related injuries?
- More than two-thirds of all fireworks-related injuries in 2006 occurred between June 16 and July 16. During that time period:
- One out of every three people injured were children under 15 years of age;
- About three times as many males were injured as females; and
- Young people under twenty sustained nearly half (47%) of all injuries from fireworks.
- People actively participating in fireworks-related activities are more frequently and severely injured than bystanders.
What kinds of injuries occur?
- Between June 16 and July 16, 2006:
- The body parts most often injured were hands (2,300 injuries), eyes (1,500 injuries), and the head, face, and ear (1,400 injuries).
- More than half of the injuries were burns. Burns were the most common injury to all body parts except the eyes and head areas, where contusions, lacerations and foreign bodies in the eye occurred more frequently.
- Fireworks can be associated with blindness, third degree burns, and permanent scarring.
- Fireworks can also cause life-threatening residential and motor vehicle fires.
What types of fireworks are associated with most injuries?
- Between June 16 and July 16, 2006:
- Firecrackers were associated with the greatest number of estimated injuries at 1,300. There were 1,000 injuries associated with sparklers and 800 associated with rockets.
- Sparklers accounted for one-third of the injuries to children less than 5 years of age.
- Between 2000-2005, more than one-third of the fireworks-related deaths involved professional devices that were illegally sold to consumers.
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, bottle rockets can fly into peoples’ faces and cause eye injuries; sparklers can ignite clothing (sparklers burn at more than 1,000°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 safely.
- Curiosity: 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).
- Experimentation: Homemade fireworks (for example, ones made of the powder from several firecrackers) can lead to dangerous and unpredictable explosions.
What is the annual cost of fireworks-related injuries?
- An estimated 2,200 reported structure or vehicle fires were started by fireworks in 2004. These fires resulted in $21 million in direct property damage.
If you must use fireworks to celebrate the Montrose Fire Protection District recommends these safety tips.
- Do not allow young children to play with fireworks under any circumstances. Sparklers, considered by many the ideal “safe” firework for the young, burn at very high temperatures and can easily ignite clothing. Children cannot understand the danger involved and cannot act appropriately in case of emergency.
- Older children should only be permitted to use fireworks under close adult supervision. Do not allow any running or horseplay.
- Light fireworks outdoors in a clear area away from houses, dry leaves or grass and flammable materials.
- Keep a bucket of water nearby for emergencies and for pouring on fireworks that don’t go off.
- Do not try to relight or handle malfunctioning fireworks. Douse and soak them with water and throw them away.
- Be sure other people are out of range before lighting fireworks.
- Never ignite fireworks in a container, especially a glass or metal container.
- Keep unused fireworks away from firing areas.
- Store fireworks in a dry, cool place. Check instructions for special storage directions.
- Never have any portion of your body directly over a firework while lighting
- Don’t experiment with homemade fireworks.