Fireworks Injury Prevention

Posted on 07-15-2024 in Hand, Hand Injury, Injury Prevention & Injury Care by Dr. Steven Kronlage, Dr. James Piorkowski, Dr. Alex Coleman

While fireworks can be the highlight of your Fourth of July celebration, they pose significant risks, particularly to the hands and arms. In fact, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission 2022 Fireworks Report, the hands and fingers account for 29% of the body parts injured, the highest percentage of any body part. The same report also indicated that 73% of all fireworks-related injuries occurred in the weeks leading up to and after the July 4th holiday. Understanding these dangers and taking preventive measures can help ensure your Independence Day remains fun and injury-free.

Fireworks are essentially controlled explosions, and mishandling them can lead to unintended and often severe injuries. Several factors contribute to their danger, including improper use or lighting and defective fireworks that explode prematurely or shoot in unexpected directions. Alcohol consumption is also a contributing factor, which can impair judgment and coordination, increasing the risk of accidents.

It is also important to remember that injuries related to fireworks can range from minor burns to severe trauma that requires surgical intervention. The consequences of these injuries, however, are not just physical. They can also be psychological, impacting a person's ability to perform daily tasks or overall quality of life. Common injuries include burns, lacerations, fractures and dislocations, and in severe cases, amputations.

Preventative Measures

Preventing fireworks-related injuries is crucial, and the American Society for Surgery of the Hand offers several important safety tips to protect yourself and others:

  • Leave It to the Professionals: The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend professional displays rather than setting off fireworks yourself.
  • Follow Local Laws and Regulations: Use only legal fireworks and follow local guidelines and safety instructions.
  • Use Protective Gear: Wear safety glasses and gloves to protect your hands and eyes.
  • Supervise Children: Ensure children are kept at a safe distance away from fireworks and never allow them to handle fireworks. Sparklers also pose a considerable risk, accounting for more than 25% of the fireworks-related visits to emergency departments annually.
  • Maintain a Safe Distance: Light fireworks at a safe distance away from people, animals, and structures.
  • Have Safety Equipment Ready: Keep a bucket of water, a hose, or a fire extinguisher nearby in case of accidents.
  • Avoid Relighting Dud Fireworks: If a firework fails to ignite, do not attempt to relight it. Wait at least 20 minutes, and then soak it in water.

What to Do If an Injury Occurs

Despite taking precautions, accidents can still happen. First and foremost, put out any flames using the Stop, Drop & Roll method or smoother flames with a blanket. For minor injuries, rinse the area with clean, cool water and cover it with a clean cloth or bandage, applying pressure to stop bleeding.

More often than not, however, these injuries require immediate medical attention. For those with life-threatening injuries, call 911 or seek treatment at the nearest emergency department. For non-life or non-limb-threatening injuries, our fellowship-trained Orthopaedic Hand Surgeons, Dr. Alex Coleman, Dr. Steven Kronlage or Dr. James Piorkowski, are available for same- and next-day appointments. We also offer a free virtual urgent care service 24/7, 365 days a year.

Fireworks can bring excitement to celebrations, but the risks to your hands are real and potentially severe. By understanding these dangers and taking preventive measures, you can protect yourself and your loved ones. To reach us during normal business hours or schedule an appointment, call 850.807.4200 or visit our Urgent Care page to access our 24/7 virtual care service, Hurt!, via the app or the web. Our Online Appointment Request Form is also available to schedule non-urgent visits.


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