Firework displays are the keynote event for many July 4th celebrations. Professionals run these large displays and injuries are rare, although in 2013 a defective shell exploded too early, injuring 39 when it sent shrapnel and rockets into the audience. Much more common are injuries caused by amateurs lighting off their fireworks, injuring themselves, friends or neighbors.
According to various news reports, firework-related severe burns and catastrophic injuries are on the rise as more potent fireworks are legally available or bought on the black market. There were an estimated 11,100 fireworks-related emergency room visits nationally in 2016 (the most recent year with final numbers) versus 7,000 in 2008. There were 373 injuries reported in 2016 here in California.
Common injuries include maiming of hands, loss of fingers, burns to the head, face, ear, or leg. Important statistics include:
- 69% of injuries are burns
- 54% of injuries involve victims under the age of 24
Caution is advised
Several measures that can be taken to improve safety:
- Always have adult supervision
- Use the fireworks in the way they were designed
- Avoid alcohol or drugs when using fireworks
- Create a circle of safety where onlookers can watch from a safe distance
Get the help you need
The relatively accessible sparklers are the leading cause of injury, but those burns are generally minor. Unfortunately, there is the potential for death or severe injury with bigger or illegal fireworks. Victims of firework mishaps are advised to seek the necessary medical attention. Depending on the severity and circumstances of the firework-related injury, victims or their families may need to contact an experienced personal injury attorney.