For many New Yorkers, fireworks and celebrations go together, especially on the Fourth of July, but fireworks particularly illegal fireworks can be extremely dangerous and often lead to serious debilitating injuries or even death. Nationally, fireworks have become a tradition and, in many cases, a prerequisite for all July 4th celebrations. Sadly, each year in the United States, hundreds of adults and children are treated at hospitals for serious burns, amputations, eye injuries and disfigurement, all as a result of injuries sustained from the use of illegal fireworks.
Westchester Medical Center wants to remind all New Yorkers that today, in many areas of New York State, including New York City and Westchester County it is illegal to possess, sell or purchase consumer fireworks. “Bottle rockets and other flying combustibles can fly into peoples’ faces and ignite clothing. Firecrackers can injure the hands or face and even damage hearing if they explode at close range,” said Dr. Joseph Turkowski, Director of the Burn Center at Westchester Medical Center. “Even sparklers can present a serious danger. These items, which can burn at temperatures over 1000 degrees, often seem harmless but in reality they are very dangerous, especially in the hands of a child.”
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reported that in the US in 2013 (most recent data), 8 people died as a result of illegal fireworks and over 11,000 people were treated in hospital emergency departments for fireworks-related injuries. Injuries to children and young adults were a major component of total fireworks-related injuries, accounting for nearly 51% of the total number of injuries. About 50% of the estimated emergency department-treated, fireworks-related injuries were individuals younger than 20 years of age. “These injuries most frequently involve the hands, fingers, eyes, head and face. More than half of the injuries are burns,” Dr. Turkowski added.
Everyone can have a safe and enjoyable 4th of July by simply leaving the fireworks to the licensed professionals. Today most communities host spectacular fireworks displays open to the public to help reduce the amount of injuries caused by unsafe, illegal demonstrations. Stay safe by attending a professionally managed fireworks display, controlled by licensed pyrotechnical experts in your community. Check with your local town hall, municipality or your local newspaper for the closest scheduled fireworks display.
Additional fireworks injury statistics
- About 200 people go to the emergency room everyday with fireworks related injuries in the month around the July Fourth holiday.
- According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) Each year in the US, there are an estimated 800 injuries associated just with firecrackers . In 2013, 28% of all firework related injuries were due to firecrackers.
- In 2013 the parts of the body most often injured were hands and fingers (estimated 36%); eyes (estimated 16%); and head, face, and ears (estimated 22%).
- More than half of the injuries were burns. Burns were the most common injury to all parts of the body except the eyes, where contusions, lacerations, and foreign bodies in the eyes occurred more frequently. For more information on fireworks related injuries or to read the 2013 Fireworks update visit: www.cpsc.gov .
A special study in 2013 found;
An estimated 7,400 fireworks-related injuries (or 65 percent of the total estimated fireworks-related injuries in 2013) were treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments during the 1-month special study period between June 21, 2013 and July 21, 2013.
Of the fireworks-related injuries sustained, 57 percent were to males, and 43 percent were to females.
Children younger than 15 years of age accounted for approximately 40 percent of the estimated 2013 injuries.
Leave the fireworks to the professionals!