Officials Warn of Uptick in Injuries Amid Firework Season

CALIFORNIA, USA - JULY 4: Fireworks illuminate the city during 'Fourth of July' celebration as seen backdrop of Golden Gate Bridge from Marin Headlands in Sausalito, California on July 4, 2023. Credit - Tayfun Coskun—Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Americans celebrating the Fourth of July next week with loved ones and fireworks should be careful, officials warned, noting an uptick in injuries from fireworks over the past 15 years.

A report from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) released Friday revealed that the commission received reports of eight deaths and about 9,700 injuries involving fireworks for 2023. Of the eight deaths, five were linked to firework misuse and two were associated with a device malfunction (the last involved unknown circumstances).

The report found that injuries caused by fireworks have increased overall between 2008 and 2023, even though recent data indicates a decline since the peak in 2020, when public displays were canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“While it is a great American tradition to enjoy fireworks around the 4th of July, it is important to remember that all fireworks, even sparklers, pose dangers to consumers. The safest way to view fireworks is to watch professional displays,” CPSC Chair Alex Hoehn-Saric said in a press release. “If you choose to light your own, make sure you only buy legal fireworks intended for consumer use from a reputable retailer.”

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CPSC analyzed injury data in the four weeks surrounding the Fourth of July in 2023, and found that about 800 emergency department-treated injuries were associated with firecrackers, and about 700 with sparklers. The body parts most often injured by fireworks were hands and fingers—those made up about 35% of injuries. The head, face, and ears were also often injured, making up about 22% of injuries. About 42% of the emergency department-treated injuries related to fireworks were for burns.

Teenagers between the ages of 15 and 19 had the highest estimated rate of emergency department-treated injuries related to fireworks, CPSC found. Children between the ages of five and nine had the second highest rate.

CPSC encouraged the public to follow safety tips for fireworks, including not allowing children to play with or ignite fireworks; making sure fireworks are legal in the area and only buying ones that are for consumer use; never using fireworks while impaired by alcohol or drugs; and keeping a bucket of water or a garden hose nearby in case of an accident.

Other safety tips include lighting fireworks one at a time before backing away quickly, never placing a body part directly over a firework when lighting it, never pointing or throwing fireworks at anyone, and dousing the used firework device with water or hose before discarding it to prevent a fire. People should also never try to relight or handle malfunctioning fireworks, CPSC warned. Instead, soak them with water and throw them away.

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