All Eyes on Fireworks Safety

Fireworks-related incidents cause 11 deaths, more than 10,000 injuries in 2014

Fireworks over BostonAlthough celebrating Independence Day with your own fireworks show this week may sound like the patriotic thing to do, Mass. Eye and Ear physicians encourage you not to give in to the temptation to light up the night sky. Fireworks can cause serious injuries, including burns, lacerations, eye injuries, vision loss, dismemberment and even death.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), there were 11 deaths related to fireworks accidents in the United States in 2014, adding to the 94 fireworks-related deaths recorded since 2000. In addition, more than 10,000 people sustained injuries related to fireworks between June 20 to July 20, 2014. During this time span, 230 people on average go to the emergency room every day with fireworks-related injuries.

  • The parts of the body most often injured were hands and fingers (approximately 36%); head, face, and ears (19%); eyes (19%); and legs (10%).
  • Half (50%) of the emergency department-treated injuries were burns, which 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.
  • Innocent-looking sparklers caused the most damage, accounting for an estimated 19% of emergency department-treated injuries. 
  • Sadly, children and young adults were the most frequently affected by fireworks accidents that required emergency room treatment, with those younger than 25 years old accounting for 58% of the estimated injuries in 2014.

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.

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 provide specialized care to patients who have suffered severe and extensive eye injuries. The Emergency Department 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, but please leave fireworks displays to the professionals!

For more information, view the CPSC infographic on fireworks injuries.