Reported fireworks injuries increased by 56 percent in 2020, underscoring the dangers of consumer fireworks

As July 4 weekend approaches, a new report from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reinforces the long-held position of NFPA to avoid consumer fireworks.  

In 2020, an estimated 15,600 people were seen for fireworks-related injuries at hospital emergency departments, reflecting the highest estimate seen in more than 15 years, according to data collected by CPSC. According to their press release, this spike was likely due to public fireworks displays being cancelled and more people turning to consumer fireworks to celebrate.

NFPA strongly recommends only attending public shows put on by trained professionals. Fireworks in the hands of consumers can cause serious injury and damage due to their unpredictability.

According to NFPA data, an estimated 19,500 fires in the US were started by fireworks in 2018, including 1,900 structure fires, 500 vehicle fires, and 17,100 outside and other fires. These fires caused five deaths and 46 injuries to civilians and $105 million in property damage. More than one-quarter (28 percent) of fireworks fires from 2014-18 occurred on July 4; approximately half (49 percent) of all fires reported on that day are caused by fireworks.

In addition, CPSC statistics show that U.S. hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 9,100 non-occupational fireworks related injuries; burns accounted for 44 percent of the fireworks injuries seen in the month around July 4. Half of the fireworks injuries seen at emergency rooms around the month of July 4 in 2018 were to extremities, particularly the hand or finger, or leg. One-third were to the eye or other parts of the head. Children ages 10-14 had the highest rate of fireworks injury, with more than one-third (36 percent) of the victims of fireworks injuries in this period under age 15.

A study from the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons found that the number of upper-extremity fireworks-related injuries increased significantly from 2008 (2,576 injuries) to 2017 (5,101). This corresponded with a 41 percent increase in consumer firework sales from the same timeframe.

While fireworks pose preventable risks to consumers, the injuries and damage they incur also unnecessarily tax responding fire departments, as well emergency room workers, who are called upon to address these incidents.

First and second responders have been through enough over the past year and a half. Let’s all do our part to lighten their load this July 4, keeping ourselves and others safe in the process. Leave fireworks to the professionals and have a safe, festive holiday

For more facts and information about fireworks, visit NFPA’s fireworks page.

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Susan McKelvey
Communications Manager

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