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Study: More people need emergency care after playing with fireworks

Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY — A report from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission may throw a wet blanket on your 4th of July plans — or at least make you think about bringing a wet blanket with you just in case your family's celebration adds to a troubling trend.

More and more Americans are sent to the emergency room after playing with fireworks.

Most of the firework enthusiasts who land in the emergency room are men, children, too, end up needing emergency care, according to the commission report. They said fireworks injuries are mostly burns and the majority of those burns are from sparklers.

In rarer situations, people are killed. The commission said last year, at least nine Americans died after playing with fireworks.

Six deaths were associated with fireworks misuse, one death was associated with a mortar launch malfunction, and two incidents were associated with unknown circumstances.

"It's imperative that consumers know the risks involved in using fireworks, so injuries and tragedies can be prevented," Alex Hoehn-Saric, chairman of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. "The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to watch the professional displays."

At its current trend, the commission estimates an increase of 274 fireworks injuries per year with 74% of emergency department visits happening on or around the 4th of July.

By the numbers

Of the 8,500 estimated fireworks-related injuries sustained, 59% were men and 41% were women.

Adults 25 to 44 years of age experienced about 32% of the estimated injuries, and children younger than 15 years of age accounted for 29% of the estimated injuries, according to the agency's study. Seniors 65 and older experienced a smaller percent of the estimated injuries at 4%.

Young adults 20 to 24 years of age had the highest estimated rate of fireworks injuries that needed emergent care (5.1 injuries per 100,000 people). Children age 5 to 9 had the second-highest estimated rate (4.5 injuries per 100,000 people). A general decrease is noted comparing the 2021 rates to the 2020 rates, except for children 5 to 14 years of age, which saw an increase from 3.3 injuries to 4.2 injuries per 100,000 people.

The study estimated 1,500 emergency department-treated injuries associated with firecrackers and 1,100 with sparklers.

The parts of the body most often injured were hands and fingers (31%); head, face and ears (21%); legs (15%); eyes (14%); trunk/other regions (10%); and arms (8%).

An estimated 32% of the emergency injuries were burns. Burns were the most common injury to hands and fingers. Contusions and lacerations accounted for 21% of the emergency department-treated injuries, including the most common injury to the head, face and ears.

Approximately 83% of the victims were treated at a hospital emergency department and then released. An estimated 15% of patients were treated and transferred to another hospital or admitted to the hospital.

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Matt Gephardt
Matt Gephardt has worked in television news for more than 20 years, and as a reporter since 2010. He is now a consumer investigative reporter for KSL TV. You can find Matt on Twitter at @KSLmatt or email him at


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