Being safe with fireworks

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that 7,000 fireworks-related injuries were treated in emergency departments in 2008.

Between June 20 and July 20, 2008, children ages 14 and under accounted for 40 percent of the total estimated fireworks-related injuries, with children under 5 suffering 14 percent of the injuries during that period and children ages 5-14 accounting for 26 percent.

For children under the age of 5, sparklers accounted for almost one-third of the injuries. Children ages 5-14 also had an estimated 200 injuries from sparklers. According to the CPSC’s annual fireworks report, victims are often injured by fireworks used by other people.

Risks associated with fireworks

  • Burns - According to CPSC, more than half of the fireworks-related injuries that occurred in 2008 were burns.
  • Contusions/Lacerations - The second most common type of injuries were contusions and lacerations.
  • Long-Term Consequences - Fireworks injuries may have long-term and lifelong consequences for victims, including missing extremities, scarring from burns and vision and hearing impairment.

Deaths and injuries with resulting fires from fireworks - According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), in 2006, an estimated 32,600 reported fires were started by fireworks. These fires resulted in six civilian deaths and 70 civilian injuries. Safe Kids USA’s policy is that consumers should never use fireworks around children or around structures that may catch on fire. Even sparklers, which burn at 2000 degrees, can pose risks, including burning children or setting their clothing on fire. Families are encouraged to enjoy public fireworks displays put on by professionals.

Safety tips

  • Never allow young children to play with or ignite 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 sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees - hot enough to melt some metals.
  • Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.
  • Never try to re-light 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 handy 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.

Other resources

For more firework safety information and free safety posters, visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission today.

Among the concurring organizations are the American Academy of Pediatrics, PEDIATRICS Vol. 108 No. 1 July 2001, reaffirmed in 2005 and 2008 and the National Fire Protection Association.