By HOWARD ROBB
Glade Fire Dept. Chief
For The Vista
In 2011, 9,600 fireworks-related injuries were treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms.
The trend in fireworks-related injuries has been mostly in the range of 8,500 to 9,800 since 1997, except for spikes in 2000, primarily due to celebrations around the advent of a new millennium, and in 2004, and a sharp drop in 2008. Injuries were higher in 1985-1995 than in 1997 and later years.
One-quarter (26%) of the victims of fireworks injuries in 2011 were under age 15. In an atypical year, the highest rates of injuries per million population applied to a wide range of ages, including children aged 5 to 19 and adults aged 25 to 44. Males accounted for two-thirds (68%) of fireworks injuries.
Three of five (61%) fireworks injuries in 2011 were to extremities – hand or finger (46%), leg (11%), and arm, shoulder, or wrist (4%). Most of the rest (34% of total) were to parts of the head, including the eye (17% of total).
In 2011, eight out of nine (89%) emergency room fireworks injuries involved fireworks that Federal regulations permit consumers to use.
Sparklers, fountains, and novelties alone accounted for one-third (34%) of emergency room fireworks injuries.
In 2011, an estimated 17,800 reported fires were started by fireworks. These fires resulted in an estimated 40 civilian injuries and $32 million in direct property damage, with no reported fire deaths.
During 2007-2011, 91% of the average of 19,700 fires associated with fireworks per year occurred outside any structure or vehicle.
The largest numbers of these outdoor fires associated with fireworks involved grass fires (6,800 per year), brush fires (4,500), dumpster fires (1,700), unclassified or unknown-type natural or vegetation fires (1,300) and other outside trash, rubbish, or waste fires (1,200).
In 2007-2011, four people per year were killed in fires started by fireworks, while data from death certificates show that five people per year were killed directly by fireworks. These estimates may overlap, because fireworks can directly kill someone while also starting a fatal fire.
Using 2000-2010 data, the risk of fire death relative to hours of usage is higher for fireworks than for cigarettes.
On Independence Day in a typical year, fireworks account for two out of five of all reported fires, more than any other cause of fire.