Fireworks injuries occur mostly around
the holidays. On Independence Day and New Year's Eve more fireworks
injuries take place than any other time of year. Fireworks injuries
happen mostly to the young as 45-percent affect those 14-years-old
and younger and 75-percent to males.
In regards to fireworks injuries, the hands
(40%), eyes (20%), and head and face (20%) are the body areas
most often involved. Bottle rockets account for two-thirds of
the eye injuries. A third of the eye-related fireworks injuries
result in permanent blindness.
Half of those who receive eye injuries are simply bystanders.
Children, who are unsupervised, are 11 times more likely to receive
Over 9,000 people per year are victims of fireworks injuries
in the United States and in 1999, nineteen people died from fireworks-related
injuries. In 1997, fireworks caused $22.7 million in direct property
damage outside of the cost of associated injuries.
Approximately 60-percent of the fireworks injuries are burns
followed by contusions and lacerations. Sparklers account for
most injuries to children under 5-years-old. Treatment of burns
from fireworks can be more complicated than first thought since
tetanus spores can be in the exploding devices' casings and gunpowder
residue, cardboard fibers, and ash are often tattooed into the
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) in 1976 set
forth regulations concerning the Class "C" or consumer
fireworks. The CPSC banned any firecracker containing more than
50 mg of explosive material and limited aerial fireworks to 130
mg of powder charge. The CPSC also lays out regulations involving
fuse burn time limits, cautionary labeling requirements, and criteria
to prevent tip-over and blowout of devices.
Bottle rockets, firecrackers, sparklers, Roman candles, snakes
and other smoke devices are currently banned by 10 states with
5 additional states only allowing sparklers, snakes and other
novelty items. The banning of fireworks is mostly, though, a patchwork
of local and state laws. Many fireworks stands will open on state
lines so those in a stricter state can come a buy the incendiary
devices in a state with more lenient laws.
Tips to Avoid Fireworks-Related Injuries
1. Only attend fireworks displays put on by professionals.
2. Avoid letting children of any age play with fireworks.
3. Don't touch unexploded fireworks. Call the police or fire department
4. Wear protective eyewear when in the vicinity of fireworks
5. Take note of wind changes when in the vicinity of fireworks
6. Do not experiment with "homemade" fireworks
7. Keep water handy in case of fire or fallen fireworks debri
Being "overly safe" may take some of the fun out enjoying
fireworks for some people. Due caution, though, may help avoid
a lifetime disability for a child or loved one.