Firework Safety

Make your July 4th safe

According to PREVENT BLINDNESS AMERICA, nearly 13,000 fireworks victims keep hospitals busy every year. More than half of those injured are children. Fireworks not only injure users, but also 40 percent of fireworks mishaps injure bystanders.

The three types of fireworks that keep hospital emergency rooms busy during this holiday period are bottle rockets, firecrackers, and sparklers. Bottle rockets and firecrackers can fly in any direction prior to exploding and sparklers burn at temperatures hot enough to melt gold.

One of the reasons fireworks injuries continue to occur is because people just don’t consider how dangerous these devices can be. People often don’t realize – until they are injured – that the risk of blindness or injury outweighs the excitement of taking risks with fireworks. And giving fireworks to young children can mean a trip to the hospital emergency room.

Do you know how dangerous fireworks can be? Click TRUE or FALSE to the statements below.

Fireworks injuries can only occur during the Fourth of July
False, While most fireworks injuries do occur during the July 4th holiday, many injuries also happen during Labor Day, New Years Eve, Christmas, and Mardi Gras.
Sparklers are safe fireworks and can be given to children
False, Sparklers are the second highest cause of fireworks injuries that require hospitalization. Most of these injuries occur among preschool-age children. Sparklers are dangerous because they burn at a termperature hot enough to melt gold (1,800 degrees F!)
Gunpowder is a major ingredient in most types of fireworks
True, Most fireworks contain gunpowder which causes these devices to explode. Class C fireworks (e.g. firecrackers) are legal in many states and contain up to 50 mg. of gunpowder. Anything higher and the fireworks may be compared to an explosive bomb.
Only people who are careless or unsupervised are injured from fireworks
False, Because fireworks are unpredictable, injuries can occur even if the person is careful or under supervision. The best way to avoid injury is not to use fireworks.
Only people who set off fireworks risk injuries
False, When it comes to fireworks, no one is safe! Prevent blindness estimates that nearly 40 percent of fireworks injuries are to bystanders.
Males are more likely to get hurt from fireworks
True, Men and boys are the most frequent users of fireworks. That’s why four out of every five fireworks injuries happen to males. Men between the ages of 22-44 and boys ages 12-14 are the most common victims.
Bottle rockets are not dangerous because they’re just firecrackers tied to a stick
False, Bottle Rockets are among the most dangerous fireworks available today. They account for the majority of all fireworks injuries that lead to permanent eye damage. Bottle Rockets can move as fast as 200 miles per hour, explode in mid air, and fly in any direction.
Homemade fireworks are safer than store bought fireworks
False, Homemade fireworks are often more hazardous. Those who make their own fireworks tend to combine the chemicals from other devices to create a bigger — and more dangerous — explosion.
Using fireworks is an inexpensive way to celebrate the Fourth of July 
False, The cost of treating a fireworks injury far outweighs the cost of a single fireworks package, which is $2.00. The average hospital emergency room charges approximately $80 for one visit. This price does not include the cost families must pay for possible permanent injury, physical therapy, or blindness.
My state bans fireworks
False and False, The answer depends on where you live. Only 11 states ban all types of fireworks; six states allow sparklers and/or snakes; 29 including the District of Columbia, allow class C fireworks; and two have no fireworks laws at all. Fireworks are allowed in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida.

Permission to reprint granted by Jeffrey G. Strauss, M.D, courtesy of Straus Eye Center and Prevent Blindness America.
3434 Houma Blvd.
Suite 300
New Orleans, LA 70006

About the Author:Dr. Jeffrey G. Strauss served his fellowship in cataract surgery at the Manhattan Eye, Ear, & Throat Hospital and completed his residency in opthalmology at Ochsner Foundation Hospital and Clinic. Dr. Strauss received his M.D. degree from the state university of New York with honors in opthalmology, family medicine, psychiatry, and biochemistry