Fireworks Injuries

The American Society for Surgery of the Hand (ASSH) recognizes the thrill and beauty of fireworks, but urges the public to enjoy public displays. Handling of fireworks should be entrusted to trained professionals. No one would like to end a joyous celebration with a life-changing injury (e.g., a damaged finger or hand).

From June 22 through July 22 of 2001 over one-third of all injuries caused by fireworks, according to the U. S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, were injuries to the fingers, hands, or arms. These injuries ranged from burns to traumatic amputation.

The majority of the injuries reported to fingers, hands, and arms came from accidents that involved the use of fireworks, specifically from firecrackers, bottle rockets, and sparklers. Those are the three types of fireworks that are most often used in a family's backyard, and are also very common at beaches, parking lots, public parks, or other places where people gather to celebrate. Of all the reported accidents, those involving firecrackers, bottle rockets, or sparklers accounted for over half (i.e., 57%) of the total (American Pyrotechnic Association).

Precautions to be Taken

Even at a public display, it is critical to remember that gunpowder and other explosives are involved in firework displays, and the following precautions should be taken:

  • Respect and obey any ushers, security personnel, safety officers and any barriers set up to keep you at a safe distance.
  • In all cases, stay at least five hundred feet from the site where the fireworks are launched.
  • When the display has ended, don't pick up any debris that came from the fireworks. Not only is it possible that the debris is still hot, but it may contain pieces that can still explode or may still be a "live" firework.
  • Never give any child a sparkler to hold. While they may look innocent and tiny, sparklers cause 10% of the total fireworks injuries (American Pyrotechnic Association) and most of the injuries to children under five years old (U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission). 

(Statistics and content as of July 1, 2003)