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Fireworks-Related Injuries and Deaths Spiked During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Fireworks Safety Is Critical for 4th of July Celebrations

The nation saw a large increase in people being hurt and killed by fireworks last year. Many municipalities cancelled July 4th public fireworks displays during the COVID- 19 pandemic, which may have spurred consumers to use fireworks on their own.

“These tragic deaths and injuries are reminders of just how dangerous fireworks can be,” said CPSC Acting Chairman Robert Adler. “Consumers should enjoy professional fireworks displays from a distance, and be extra vigilant when using consumer-type fireworks.” 

new report by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) finds a 50 percent increase in deaths and injuries from fireworks-related incidents in 2020, compared to 2019.

  • At least 18 people died from fireworks-related incidents in 2020, compared to 12 reported for the previous year.
  • About 15,600 people were treated in hospital emergency departments for fireworks injuries in 2020. There were about 10,000 ER-treated fireworks injuries in 2019.

Other important highlights from CPSC’s report:

  • Of the 18 deaths, 8 of the victims (44 percent) had used alcohol or drugs prior to the incident.
  • Most fireworks-related injuries (about 66 percent) occurred in the month surrounding the July 4th holiday (from June 21, 2020 to July 21, 2020). During that one-month period:
  • Severe injuries related to fireworks increased in 2020. More consumers were admitted to the hospital, or were transferred to another hospital for treatment, due to severe fireworks injuries in 2020 (21 percent) versus 2019 (12 percent).
  • Young adults ages 20-24 saw the biggest spike in visits to the hospital emergency room for fireworks-related injuries, compared to any age group last year, 17 injuries per 100,000 people in 2020 versus 2.8 per 100,000 people in 2019.
  • Firecrackers were the biggest source of ER-treated fireworks injuries (1,600), followed by sparklers (900).
  • The parts of the body most often injured were hands and fingers, at 30 percent. The head, face and ears were the second most injured body parts, at 22 percent. Eye injuries were third at 15 percent.
  • Burns were the most common fireworks-related, emergency room-treated injury, at 44 percent. 

Tips to Celebrate Safely

  • 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 from the fireworks device 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, to prevent a trash fire, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding the device.
  • Make sure fireworks are legal in your area, and only purchase and set off fireworks that are labeled for consumer (not professional) use.
  • Never use fireworks while impaired by alcohol or drugs.
  • For more fireworks safety tips, visit www.cpsc.gov.

Demonstrations of fireworks dangers https://spaces.hightail.com/space/leQcRVoZfH 

About the U.S. CPSC
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of injury or death associated with the use of thousands of types of consumer products. Deaths, injuries, and property damage from consumer product incidents cost the nation more than $1 trillion annually. CPSC’s work to ensure the safety of consumer products has contributed to a decline in the rate of deaths and injuries associated with consumer products over the past 40 years.

Federal law bars any person from selling products subject to a publicly announced voluntary recall by a manufacturer or a mandatory recall ordered by the Commission.

For lifesaving information:

- Visit CPSC.gov.

- Sign up to receive our e-mail alerts.

- Follow us on Facebook, Instagram @USCPSC and Twitter @USCPSC.

- Report a dangerous product or a product-related injury on www.SaferProducts.gov.

- Call CPSC’s Hotline at 800-638-2772 (TTY 301-595-7054).

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