As fireworks light the sky, the glee can turn to gloom for some. About 280 people a day, from mid-June to mid-July each year, seek treatment for fireworks-related injuries, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
The injuries most often affect hands and fingers (28 percent of injuries), followed by the legs (24 percent), eyes (19 percent) and head, face and ears (15 percent). Many of the injuries are burns, and they also include permanent scarring and blindness. In 2018, at least five people died from a fireworks-related injury, and about 9,100 people were treated in hospital emergency departments – nearly two-thirds of them during the month around the Fourth of July. About half of the ER-treated injuries involved people younger than 20.
Safety experts say the best way to stay injury free is to let the professionals do the fireworks and avoid do-it-yourself displays. Though 49 states and Washington D.C. allow the sale of some or all types of consumer fireworks (with only Massachusetts having an all-out ban on fireworks sales), according to the American Pyrotechnics Association, even legal fireworks can be dangerous and sometimes deadly.
Sparklers, for instance – considered by many to be a safe option for youngsters – burn at 2,000 degrees, described by the National Safety Council as “hot enough to burn some metals.” Safety experts say that young children should never be allowed to play with sparklers and that anyone using fireworks or standing nearby should have on protective eyewear. The CPSC also urges people to not buy or use fireworks packaged in brown paper as that “is often a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays and are not for consumer use.”