News Release

Friday, June 27, 2008

Contact: George Stinnett, CHKD, (757) 668-7043 or George.Stinnett@chkd.org

Leave Fireworks to the Professionals

HAMPTON ROADS, Va.—The American Academy of Pediatrics is urging parents to leave fireworks to the professionals. Each July 4th, thousands of people across the U.S., most often children and teens, are injured while consuming fireworks. Despite the dangers, the AAP says few people understand the associated risks – devastating burns, other injuries, fires and even death.

The AAP is part of the Alliance to Stop Consumer Fireworks, a group of health and safety organizations that urges the public to avoid the use of consumer fireworks and, instead, to enjoy displays of fireworks conducted by trained professionals.

Some facts and figures from the National Fire Protection Association (www.nfpa.org) and the AAP (www.aap.org):

  • In 2005, fireworks caused an estimated 1,800 total structure and 700 vehicle fires reported to fire departments. These 2,500 fires resulted in an estimated 60 civilian injuries and $39 million in direct property damage. There were no reported civilian deaths.
  • In 2006, U.S. hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 9,200 people for fireworks related injuries. 49% of the injuries were to the extremities and 46% were to the head. 55% of the 2006 fireworks injuries were burns, while 30% were contusions and lacerations.
  • The risk of fireworks injury was two-and-a-half times as high for children ages 10-14 as for the general population.
  • Every type of consumer firework has been associated with death or injury. The Consumer Product Safety Commission reported: one-third of fireworks related injuries were caused by firecrackers; bottle rockets accounted for almost 20 percent of injuries; and sparklers, which many consumers believe to be safe, caused 10 percent of injuries.
  • Although most sparkler related injuries are minor burns and corneal abrasions, sparklers can reach temperatures greater than 1,000 F at the tip and cause serious burns by igniting clothing. Children 5 and under are at greatest risk from sparklers.
  • In 2001-2005, an estimated 1 person per year was killed in reported fires started by fireworks, while 6 people per year were killed directly by fireworks.
  • On Independence Day in a typical year, more U.S. fires are reported than on any other day, and fireworks account for half of those fires, more than any other cause of fires.
  • Five states ban the use of fireworks by consumers (Del., Mass., N.J., N.Y. and R.I.). The other 45 states and the District of Columbia permit some or all consumer fireworks.

“Fireworks are beautiful and thrilling,” says CHKD emergency medicine specialist Michael Poirier. “But when things go wrong with them, they can go very wrong very, very quickly. To keep your 4th of July holiday a celebration, enjoy your fireworks from afar.”