2013 Fireworks Safety



Updated with CPSC’s 2011 Fireworks Annual Report

June 2013

  • Fireworks devices were involved in an estimated 9,600 injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms in 2011, based on the 2011 Fireworks Annual Report from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (June 26, 2012).   

  • An estimated 6,200 injuries were treated in hospital emergency rooms during the one-month period surrounding the Fourth of July (June 17-July 17).  

Results from the 2011 special study include the following:

·        Of the fireworks-related injuries sustained, 68 percent were to males, and 32 percent were to females.

·        Children younger than 15 years of age accounted for approximately 26 percent of the estimated 2011 injuries. Thirty-six percent of the estimated emergency department-treated, fireworks-related injuries were individuals younger than 20 years of age.

·        There were an estimated 800 emergency department-treated injuries associated with firecrackers. Of these, an estimated 20 percent were associated with small firecrackers, 10 percent with illegal firecrackers, and 69 percent with firecrackers for which there was no specific information.

·        There were an estimated 1,100 emergency department-treated injuries associated with sparklers and 300 with bottle rockets.

·        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.

·        Most patients were treated at the emergency department and then released. An estimated 12 percent of patients were treated and transferred to another hospital or admitted to the hospital.

CPSC reported cases of eye injuries from fireworks:

·        A 14-year-old female had a Roman Candle in her hand. When she ignited it, some of the debris went into her eye, causing a corneal abrasion.

·        A 34-year-old male dismantled a cake device (mortar) and set off the tubes one by one. One of the tubes went off more quickly than he expected and exploded in his face. As a result, the victim suffered broken bones between his nose and eye socket, causing vision loss. The victim now requires prescription glasses for his right eye.

·        A 22-year-old male was at his friend’s house. His friend lit a Roman Candle in the yard, and one of the sparks went into the victim’s eye due to the wind. The victim suffered a corneal abrasion.

·        A 16-year-old male’s brother stacked multiple-tube devices on top of each other and ignited them. The cubes fell over and started shooting in all directions. To protect others, the victim grabbed one of the cubes, which he thought was inactive. The firework exploded and went into his right eye. As a result, the victim suffered a corneal abrasion and hyphema.

·        A 33-year-old male ignited an aerial type of firework in front of his house. The firework went up about 6 feet and exploded. A burning ember came down and hit the victim in the right eye. He sustained a burn to his right eye.

·        A 54-year-old female was in a public park watching a city’s fireworks display across a river. The ashes/debris from the fireworks went into her eye. Her eye was irritated, and she got a hematoma in the eye.

·        A 19-year-old male was setting off mortar-type fireworks. The last firework went off faster than he expected and exploded about 2 feet from his face. The victim sustained burns to his face and an eye abrasion.

·         A 31-year-old male set off aerial shells at a beach. He placed a mortar into a tube and buried the tube a few inches in sand. When he lit the mortar, the tube blew apart and caused the mortar to go sideways. The firework hit the victim in his right eye. The victim suffered bleeding in his right eye, and the iris was torn apart.

Prevent Blindness America recommends:

·        The best defense against severe eye injuries and burns is to not play with any fireworks.

·        Do not purchase, use or store fireworks of any type. Protect yourself, your family and your friends by avoiding fireworks. Attend only authorized public fireworks displays conducted by licensed operators, but be aware that even professional displays can be dangerous.

·        Prevent Blindness America supports the development and enforcement of bans on the importation, sale and use of all fireworks, except those used in authorized public displays by licensed operators, as the only effective means of eliminating the social and economic impact of fireworks-related trauma and damage.

Other Firework Statistics

  • In 2006, nine out of ten emergency room fireworks injuries involved fireworks that Federal regulations permit consumers to use, according to the National Fire Protection Association.  “Safe and sane” fireworks caused more injuries than illegal fireworks, especially to preschool children.

  • According to the NFPA, on July 4, when consumer fireworks use is at its peak, fireworks are not only the leading cause of fires and associated civilian deaths and injuries, but also a leading cause of assorted direct property damage.

According to the American Pyrotechnics Association:

Laws by state:

  • Consumer Fireworks (formerly known as Class C Fireworks) – Also known as 1.4G Fireworks. These devices are most commonly sold at neighborhood stands during the Fourth of July season.

  • Display Fireworks (formerly known as Class B Fireworks) – Also known as 1.3G Fireworks. These are the fireworks used in large community displays run by licensed professionals (pyrotechnicians). These devices are not intended for use by consumers.

  • The legal limit of explosive material in a consumer (1.4G or Class C) firework is 50 mg (about the size of half an aspirin tablet). Any item containing more than 50 mg is illegal and should be avoided.