TYLER, Texas — The Fourth of July is synonymous with barbecues, parades and, of course, fireworks.
However, this year’s July 4th holiday may look different from most, with many people celebrating from home due to social distancing restrictions still in place to help stop the spread of COVID-19. All too often, however, Independence Day backyard celebrations can end up with a trip to the hospital for fireworks-related injuries.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), there were an estimated 10,000 fireworks-related, emergency department-treated injuries in 2019, with 73% occurring during the month surrounding the Fourth of July holiday (June 21-July 21).
During that period, sparklers were the number one cause of injuries, accounting for an estimated 900 injuries; 66% of the injuries were to males. Similar to 2018’s data, nearly half of the estimated injuries were to individuals younger than 20. In fact, half of reported sparkler injuries involved children younger than 5.
The CPSC says at least 12 people died from fireworks-related incidents in 2019. Several deaths occurred when victims held and ignited fireworks.
In one of the reported cases in 2019, a 21-year-old man was critically injured when lighting mortar-type fireworks on the rooftop of an apartment complex. The firework ignited and exploded while the victim was holding it over his head. The victim was taken to the hospital, where he died five days later.
“Many Americans will not get to see the grand, professional fireworks displays this 4th of July given the cancellations of public celebrations and stay-at-home orders across the country. As an alternative, people are purchasing their own fireworks in an effort to recreate that tradition at home,” said CPSC Commissioner Dana Baiocco. “The need for safety awareness regarding fireworks is greater than ever,” she said, “and anyone who plans to use consumer fireworks this year should review and follow CPSC’s simple safety tips to prevent injuries and incidents.”
The CPSC has provided tips to ensure a safe Independence Day celebration:
- Never allow young children to play with, or ignite, fireworks, including sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit—hot enough to melt some metals.
- Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy, in case of fire or other mishap.
- Light fireworks one at a time, then move away 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. Move to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.
- Never point or throw fireworks (including sparklers) at anyone.
- After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding the device to prevent a trash fire.
- Make sure fireworks are legal in your area, and only purchase fireworks that are labeled for consumer (not professional) use.