CPSC Warns About Rising Reports of Fireworks Injuries Ahead of July 4 Festivities

Many fireworks contain illegal ingredients, improper fuses and excessive explosive material, which have contributed to an increasing number of fireworks injuries in recent years, according to officials.

As the 4th of July holiday approaches, federal safety officials have released updated figures on annual fireworks injuries in the United States, urging everyone to remain vigilant and adhere to safety precautions when using any form of fireworks, including sparklers.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued a fireworks warning last week, indicating that multiple people died from using fireworks incorrectly last year, and nearly 10,000 more were injured , highlighting the dangers they pose to consumers.

In the updated report on 2023 fireworks injuries, the agency indicates that at least eight people in the U.S. were killed due to fireworks misuse and malfunction last year. Additionally, more than 9,700 people suffered injuries linked to fireworks, including burns. An estimated 6,400 of the injuries occurred just in the two weeks directly before, and two weeks directly after, the Fourth of July holiday.

From 2008 to 2023, fireworks-related injuries increased by nearly 600 people each year. These injuries peaked in 2020, during the height of the pandemic, as stay-at-home orders and the cancellation of many public displays led more people to use fireworks at home.

Despite warnings from the CPSC, this prompted many Americans to engage in at-home fireworks displays, in some cases involving illegal fireworks, and many of those at-home activities led to injuries.

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In 2022, more than 10,000 people suffered injuries linked to fireworks, and there were 11 reported deaths related to fireworks that year. As is the case nearly every year, the majority of the injuries were sustained in the one month surrounding the July Fourth holiday.

While most people understand the dangers of fireworks, many do not realize that smaller fireworks such as sparklers can burn at around 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, which is hot enough to melt some metals. In 2023, at least 700 injuries were linked to sparklers and more than 800 were caused by firecrackers.

According to the report, nearly half of the injuries treated last year in the ER involved burns, including severe burns to the hands and back, injuries to the eyes, and small holes in the face. Other injuries included lacerations, bone fractures, and sprains. About one-third of the injuries were to the hands and fingers, and roughly one-quarter were to the head, face, and ears.

Teens suffered the highest rate of injuries linked to fireworks of any age group, with children ages 5 to 9 having the second highest rate of injuries.

The CPSC indicates nearly 20% of fireworks tested contained illegal ingredients and components. This includes improper fuses, prohibited chemicals, and pyrotechnic material overload, meaning they contain more burning materials than is considered safe.

Fireworks Safety Tips

Due to the increase in fireworks injuries around the Fourth of July holiday, the CPSC has outlined a series of tips to help prevent injuries and death to users;

  • Never allow children to play with or light fireworks, including sparklers.
  • Only purchase and set off fireworks that are labeled for consumer use.
  • Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose on hand in case of fire.
  • Light fireworks one at a time, then move back quickly.
  • Never try to relight or handle malfunctioning fireworks. Soak them with water and throw them away.
  • Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse.
  • Never point or throw fireworks, including sparklers, at anyone.
  • After fireworks are done burning, to prevent a trash fire, douse the device with water from a bucket or hose before throwing it away.
  • Never use fireworks while impaired by alcohol or drugs.

“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,: said CPSC Chair Alex Hoehn-Saric. “The safest way to view fireworks is to watch professional displays.”

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