Celebrate the Fourth of July Safely, Without Personal Fireworks

Firework-related Injuries Led to 8,600 Hospital Visits in the U.S. in 2010

Albany, N.Y. (July 1, 2011) – New York State Health Commissioner Nirav R. Shah, M.D., M.P.H., today urged New Yorkers to celebrate a safe Fourth of July by staying away from the use of personal fireworks.

"A holiday celebration should not turn into a trip to the emergency department. Put safety first during Fourth of July weekend and leave fireworks displays to the professionals," said Commissioner Shah. "We want everyone to enjoy this festive weekend, and public fireworks displays conducted by professionals and overseen by safety experts are a good way to celebrate. But each year, adults and children are injured when they play with fireworks. Don't let that happen to you or your family this year."

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), there were 8,600 fireworks-related injuries in 2010 that required emergency department treatment. Approximately 73 percent of those injuries occurred in a one-month period around July 4th. Approximately 40 percent of the injuries were to children under 15 years of age.

The use of personal fireworks is illegal in New York State. Yet the private use of fireworks is responsible each year for eye and ear damage, burns, puncture wounds, and permanent scarring.

Common causes of fireworks-related injuries are:

  • A fast-fuse firecracker explodes before it can be thrown;
  • A misguided rocket strikes a bystander; and,
  • A curious youngster goes to investigate why a firecracker "failed" to explode.

Fireworks include firecrackers, bottle rockets, glow-worm/snakes that "glow" when ignited, and sparklers. Even sparklers can be lethal because they burn at more than 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit, which is hot enough to melt gold.

The CPSC also reports that an estimated 900 injuries were associated with firecrackers, 1,200 with sparklers, and 400 with bottle rockets. Burns to the body were the most common injury. Hand and finger injuries accounted for about 30 percent of all fireworks-related injuries, followed by leg injuries (22 percent), eye injuries (21 percent) and injuries to the head, face and ears (16 percent).

In a typical year, more fires are reported on July 4 nationally than on any other day, and fireworks account for half of those fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

"It is important to teach children and remind adults that fireworks are not toys and can be dangerous," Dr. Shah said. "As we celebrate a national holiday and nice weather, stay away from fireworks so you can enjoy an active, healthy summer."

Taking simple precautions while watching fireworks displays are also recommended, including using earplugs to protect hearing, keeping a safe distance from a fireworks launch site, and leaving pets at home.

More information is available at: http://www.cpsc.gov/info/fireworks