The Danger of Fireworks

Updated: June 8, 2017

It’s that time of year again for backyard BBQ’s and holiday celebrations! Various local cities and towns will have fireworks displays that are sure to be amazing. Many families will enjoy these displays as well as lighting their own fireworks off at home. Unfortunately, fireworks are not without risk to those handling or near them.

It seems like an obvious statement, but injuries from fireworks can be severe. Approximately, 258 people on average go to the emergency room every day with fireworks-related injuries in the month around the 4th of July.  A study by the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC)  found that hands and fingers were the most frequently injured body parts accounting for 36% of all injuries involving fireworks.

This time of year, our Certified Hand Therapists (CHT) see an increase in hand injuries related to fireworks. The children that we work with have many incidents related to, but not exclusive to holding firecrackers when they go off or having their hands burned by sizzling sparklers. In the report completed by the U.S. CPSC in 2015, children younger than 15 years old accounted for 26% of injuries related to fireworks, and those under the age of 20 accounted for 42% of all related emergency visits.

Firecrackers, sparklers, and bottle rockets are the primary cause of finger, hand, and arm injuries related to fireworks. These three types of smaller fireworks are the most commonly used amateur fireworks. They account for 49% of all firework injuries.

Fireworks come in all shapes and sizes. They dazzle, sparkle, pop, and sizzle! Children are naturally drawn to the fun effects that fireworks can make. However, it is important for families to understand that there is no safe way to use at-home fireworks. Even sparklers, which may seem innocent and fun, come with some risk and should not be handled by children because they can reach temperatures hot enough to melt some metals. They are responsible for the most injuries to those under the age of 5.

Fireworks are meant to be enjoyed as part of large displays that captivate audiences and allow families and friends to share in the fun. The American Society for Surgery of the Hand (ASSH) as well as the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend attending public fireworks displays instead of setting them off at home. Have a safe and happy summer!

For more information on fireworks, click here.

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Jim O’Shea OT, MOT, CHT
Jim O’Shea OT, MOT, CHT is a Certified Hand Therapist in the Sports and Orthopedic Physical Therapy Department at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. He completed both undergraduate and graduate degrees in Occupational Therapy at Quinnipiac University (’00, ’11). Jim has been a Certified Hand Therapist since 2006 and has been an active member of the American Society of Hand Therapists. He started working at NCH in 2010 after moving from the NY/NJ area. In 2012, Jim was glad to be part of a mission trip that traveled to India to assist with reconstructive procedures for patients with traumatic and/or congenital upper extremity injuries. In his spare time, Jim enjoys traveling, finding great restaurants, spending time with his dog, and staying active through Crossfit and running.

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