Families and friends gathering for the Fourth of July holiday can take “simple safety steps” when celebrating the nation’s birthday with fireworks, says the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission  (CPSC), which tracks fireworks-related injuries.
There were an estimated 9,100 fireworks-related, emergency department-treated injuries in 2018, with 62 percent of them occurring during the month surrounding the Fourth of July (June 22-July 22), the CPSC said in its new report released just before this year’s Fourth of July festivities.
During that period, firecrackers were the No. 1 cause of injuries, representing 19 percent of the estimated injuries. For children under 5 years of age, sparklers accounted for more than half of the total estimated injuries. CPSC says that there have been 121 fireworks-related deaths nationwide between 2003 and 2018, with five deaths reported in 2018.
“CPSC works year-round to help prevent deaths and injuries from fireworks, by verifying fireworks meet safety regulations in our ports, marketplace and on the road,” said Ann Marie Buerkle, CPSC acting chairman. “Beyond CPSC’s efforts, we want to make sure everyone takes simple safety steps to celebrate safely with their family and friends.”
Kids and young adults often become victims from mishandling fireworks (see infographic below for safety tips). Children younger than 15 years of age account for about one-third of injuries, the CPSC says. About half of estimated fireworks-related injuries are to individuals younger than 20 years of age.
The parts of the body most often injured were hands and fingers (an estimated 31 percent); head, face, and ears (an estimated 22 percent); legs (an estimated 17 percent); eyes (an estimated 14 percent); and arms (an estimated 6 percent), the CPSC found. Fifty-three percent of the emergency department-treated injuries were burns, most commonly affecting the hands, fingers and arms.
“Even the most benign fireworks can potentially cause severe burns,” said Ricardo Castrellon, M.D.,  medical director of the Burn Center  at South Miami Hospital. “Seek emergency care right away for any large blisters that form and for blistering burns to the face, hands, feet, genital area or on top of joints.”
Important fireworks safety tips are included in the infographic below. Infographic by Alexis Hartog