Summer is synonymous with barbecues and parades, and using consumer fireworks on our nation’s birthday is as traditional as cookouts and apple pie; and yet, despite the dangers of fireworks associated with the 4th of July celebrations, few people understand the associated risks–devastating burns, other injuries, fires, and even death.
According to Consumer Product Safety Commission, 240 people, on average, go to the emergency room every day with fireworks-related injuries in the month around the 4th of July. The Commission also lists the most injured body parts, including fingers and hands (36%), head, face, and ears (22%), and Eyes (16%).
Fireworks by the numbers:
- In 2011, fireworks caused an estimated 17,800 reported fires, including 1,200 total structure fires, 400 vehicle fires, and 16,300 outside and other fires. These fires resulted in an estimated eight reported civilian deaths, 40 civilian injuries, and $32 million in direct property damage;
- In 2012, U.S. hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 8,700 people for fireworks-related injuries; 55% of 2012 emergency room fireworks-related injuries were to the extremities and 31% were to the head;
- The risk of fireworks injury was highest for young people ages 15 to 24, followed by children under 10; and
- On Independence Day in a typical year, far more U.S. fires are reported than on any other day, and fireworks account for two out of five of those fires, more than any other cause of fires.
Displays of fireworks should be enjoyed by the public, but conducted by trained professionals.
Every year, young children can be found along parade routes and at festivals with sparklers in hand, but they are a lot more dangerous than most people think. Parents don’t realize they burn at about 2,000 degrees–hot enough to melt some metals. Sparklers can quickly ignite clothing, and many children have received severe burns from dropping sparklers on their feet.
The Alliance for Consumer Fireworks and National Fire Protection Association highlights the dangers of consumer fireworks with a demonstration at the Massachusetts Fire Academy in Stow, MA.
If you are aware of someone selling illegal explosives such as M-80s, Cherry Bombs, and Silver Salutes, contact the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms immediately at 1-888-ATF-BOMB.
The National Council on Fireworks Safety offers common sense safety tips for using consumer fireworks in the hopes that injuries to consumers can be greatly reduced this season. It is up to the public to use fireworks in a safe and responsible manner.