Fireworks Safety Tips from IBJI's Hand & Upper Extremity Surgeon

In 2006, about 9,200 firework injuries were reported in the US, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). By 2021, there were 11,500 injuries.

In 2020, the CPSC's report listed an estimated 15,600 people who were hospitalized with injuries related to fireworks – the highest number in the last 15 years. Fireworks handled incorrectly can be fatal; 12 out of 18 deaths reported in 2020 were related to misuse.

lighting a firecracker

More than 50% of the incidents reported in 2021 involved either the hands, fingers, or head. Burns were by far the most common of injuries, followed by fractures/sprains, cuts, and bumps. Such situations are often complicated by alcohol and drug misuse.

The fireworks causing the highest number of injuries were the “mortar” category followed by sparklers, wire/wood core, roman candles, and bottle rockets. Frequently, the person injured is not the one actually handling the firework but happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Two types of injury are commonly seen: burn injuries, as can be expected from anything that could explode. Additionally, a blast effect-type injury can occur, which causes deeper trauma.

If you do choose to use legal fireworks, here are some safety tips from the National Safety Council:

  • Never allow young children to handle fireworks
  • Older children should use them only under close adult supervision
  • Never use fireworks while impaired by drugs or alcohol
  • Anyone using fireworks or standing nearby should wear protective eyewear
  • Never hold lighted fireworks in your hands
  • Never light them indoors
  • Only use them away from people, houses, and flammable material
  • Only light one device at a time and maintain a safe distance after lighting
  • Never ignite devices in a container
  • Do not try to re-light or handle malfunctioning fireworks
  • Soak both spent and unused fireworks in water for a few hours before discarding
  • Keep a bucket of water nearby to fully extinguish fireworks that don't go off or in case of fire.

Tips for treatment: If you are injured by a firework or explosion, seek immediate medical attention.

IBJI's OrthoAccess walk-in clinics are here for you if you suffer a minor injury. You can skip the ER and find the OrthoAccess location nearest you to have a plan in place for:

  • Simple Fractures
  • Dislocations
  • Slips, Trips, and Falls
  • Sprains and Strains
  • Sports Injuries
  • Work-related Injuries, and More
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