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All Eyes on Fireworks Safety


Although celebrating July 4 with a "bang!" may sound like the patriotic thing to do this upcoming Independence Day weekend, Mass. Eye and Ear physicians encourage you not to give in to the temptation to put on your own show.  Each year, thousands of people are injured while using fireworks.

Fireworks can cause serious injuries including burns, lacerations, eye injuries, vision loss, dismemberment and even death.

According to a report from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), fireworks were involved in an estimated 8,700 injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments during calendar year 2012 and also accounted for a number of deaths. 86 fireworks-related deaths were reported between 2000 and 2012.

A special CPSC study conducted between June 22, 2012 and July 22, 2012 found that the parts of the body most often injured were hands and fingers (an estimated 41 percent); head, face, and ears (an estimated 19 percent); legs (an estimated 13 percent); and eyes (an estimated 12 percent).

More than half of the emergency department-treated 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. 

Sparklers, which are often mistakenly considered harmless, can cause injuries. Sparklers can burn to 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit, hot enough to melt glass and cause third-degree burns. The special 2012 CPSC study found an estimated 600 emergency department-treated injuries associated with sparklers. In addition, it noted 400 emergency department-treated injuries associated with bottle rockets, as well as 1,200 emergency department-treated injuries associated with firecrackers.

Sadly, children and young adults were the most frequently effected, with children younger than 15 years old accounting for approximately 30 percent of the estimated injuries in 2012, and individuals younger than 20 years of age accounting for 46 percent of the estimated emergency department-treated, fireworks-related injuries.

Physicians at Mass. Eye and Ear urge you to recognize that the safest way to enjoy fireworks is to leave it to the professionals. Take advantage of any professional (and often, free) fireworks displays that are available this Independence Day holiday.  Even during a professional display, never handle any fireworks that might remain. If previously ignited, these can discharge and cause injuries. Children should be told not to pick up fireworks if they find them, and to tell an adult immediately.If an eye injury does occur:

  • Do not try to remove any protruding objects from the eye.
  • Flush the eye with water to remove any particles that are present.
  • Cover the eye loosely for comfort and seek immediate medical attention.

Mass. Eye and Ear’s Emergency Department and Eye Trauma Service provides specialized care to patients who have suffered severe and extensive eye injuries. The Eye Trauma Service is open 24-hours a day, seven days a week. For more information, contact the Emergency Department and Eye Trauma Service at 617-573-3431.

Mass. Eye and Ear wishes you a fun-filled and safe holiday! Leave fireworks displays to the professionals!



Source: Information compiled from Consumer Product Safety Commission and

Page updated 6/28/13