At this time of year, many festivities include fireworks and many stores make fireworks available for purchase. While fireworks are a fun way to celebrate the Fourth of July and other summertime holidays, however, they are also a cause of serious injuries to minors and children. Fireworks can cause burn injuries, skin lesions, broken bones, brain injuries, eye injuries, and other serious injuries.
Unfortunately, although many fireworks injuries are preventable, they still do occur far too frequently. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), in 2007 alone, roughly 7,000 people were admitted to ERs due to fireworks-related injuries and about seven injuries related to fireworks proved fatal that year. About half of the serious fireworks-related injuries that year involved children under the age of 15.
According to the CPSC, 2007 was not an unusual year. Each year, thousands of people are seriously injured by fireworks and a large percentage of these victims are children. During most years, the CPSC reports an increase in fireworks-related injuries in the weeks surrounding July 4th. During this time of year, fireworks are often most available in stores and homes. Men and boys are more likely to be injured by fireworks than women and girls. As well, statistics have shown that people who are simply watching fireworks are less likely to be injured than those who are handling fireworks.
Many parents and caregivers assume that some types of fireworks are more dangerous. For example, parents understand in many cases that roman candles, traditional firecrackers and bottle rockets are dangerous. However, many parents allow their children to play with sparklers, assuming that these are safer brands of firecrackers. In reality, however, sparklers can reach temperatures of more than 1000°F and account for about 10% of injuries caused by fireworks each year. About half of all children under five who sustain fireworks-related injuries are injured by sparklers. The truth is that there are no safe fireworks for children. Since all fireworks and firecrackers create sparks and involve high temperatures, none of these products are child-safe.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the best way for parents to avoid fireworks-related injuries is to avoid buying fireworks for home use. Instead, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends attending public displays of fireworks. Since these displays are usually organized by professionals, they tend to be safer. Professionals know how to set off fireworks in a controlled and safe fashion. As well, in public fireworks displays, the public is usually kept at a safe distance, preventing the types of injuries which can occur with close proximity to fireworks.
According to the CPSC, the hands are the most often injured body part in fireworks-related incidents, followed by the eyes, head, and facial area. In more than half of fireworks incidents, burn injuries were the resulting injury. However, fireworks-related injuries can also include lacerations, contusions, foreign objects in the eye, blindness, and other serious injuries. In some cases, fireworks can also cause car and home fires.