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Fireworks injuries skyrocket on the 4th of July

Fireworks are a staple for Fourth of July celebrations in the U.S. The thrill of handling fireworks, however, can be dangerous. Patriotic displays of color, smoke, and sound can bring a slew of emergency room visits for burns and blast wounds.

About two-thirds of fireworks injuries happen each year in a one-month span surrounding

July 4. 94% of firework accidents happen with store-bought items detonated by amateurs. Last year, emergency rooms around the country treated an average of 267 fireworks-related injuries per day in the 30-day span between June 19 and July 19.

Most of these injuries are to the hands and fingers. Typical fireworks injuries can be caused by firecrackers, bottle rockets, sparklers and more. Sparklers can burn at about 2,000 degrees, hot enough to melt metal!

So who is most likely to get hurt?

Legal fireworks or not, the majority of people who are injured are young males. Children are much more likely than adults to get hurt. 12-year-olds sustain more fireworks injuries than any other age group.

Sparklers are an unassuming culprit in the hands of any child. The most common type of sparkler injury is thermal burns. In fact, one in five people injured or burned by a sparkler are 9 years old or younger.

What types of hand injuries are caused by fireworks?

Annually, about 53% of fireworks injuries occur to the fingers and hand, most often while attempting to light the fuse of an explosive device. The non-dominant hand (usually holding the device) is most likely to be injured, and the dominant hand (usually holding the match, lighter, etc.) is most likely to be spared from severe injury.

Common firework hand injuries include:

  • Burns – second and third degree

  • Dislocated bones

  • Lacerations

  • Amputation of thumb, fingers or hand

The National Safety Council advises everyone to stay away from all consumer fireworks and to only enjoy fireworks at a public display conducted by professionals.The following precautions should be taken when attending a public fireworks display:

  • Obey safety barriers and ushers.

  • Stay a minimum of 500 feet from the launching site.

  • Resist the temptation to pick up firework debris when the display is over. The debris may still be hot. In some cases, the debris might be “live” and could still explode.

For more information or to request an appointment, please contact Dr. Patrick McDaid, M.D. at

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