Each year fire departments respond to emergencies where someone has been injured by use of fireworks, or a wildland or structure fire has occurred as a result of fireworks. The end of June and early July is by far the most common time for fireworks related emergencies. Here are some facts regarding fireworks:
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) 2012 Fireworks Annual Report, U.S. hospital emergency rooms saw an estimated 8,700 people for fireworks-related injuries in 2012. In the month around July 4th, almost three out of five (57 percent) of the fireworks injuries were burns, while almost one-fifth (18 percent) were contusions or lacerations. Sparklers, fountains and novelties alone accounted for one-quarter (25 percent) of the emergency room fireworks injuries.
In 2011, the parts of the body most often injured were hands and fingers (an estimated 46 percent); eyes (an estimated 17 percent); head, face, and ears (an estimated 17 percent); and legs (an estimated 11 percent). More than half of the emergency department-treated injuries were burns. Burns were the most common injury to all parts of the body, except the eyes, where contusions, lacerations, and foreign bodies in the eyes occurred more frequently. There were an estimated 1,100 emergency department-treated injuries associated with sparklers and 300 with bottle rockets.
Young people pay a particularly high price for fireworks. During the same July period, the risk of injury was highest among those ages 15-24, followed by children under 10. Three out of ten people (30 percent) injured by fireworks were under the age of 15. Males accounted for three-quarters (74 percent) of the injuries overall.
On Independence Day in a typical year, fireworks account for two out of five of all reported U.S. fires, more than any other cause of fire. In 2011, fireworks caused an estimated 17,800 reported fires resulting in 40 civilian injuries and $32 million in direct property damage. The vast majority of injuries occur without a fire starting.
Sadly, many parents remain unaware of the potential dangers of fireworks especially when it comes to sparklers. An adult who innocently puts a sparkler in the hands of a child does not realize that a sparkler burns at a temperature of 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit. To put this in perspective, steel will warp, melt, and sag when heated to temperatures of about 1,100 degrees Fahrenheit. The touch of a lit sparkler can ignite a child’s clothing, causing third degree burns within seconds.