Fireworks were once a summertime tradition reserved only for celebrating the Fourth of July. Now they’re a common sight and sound in neighborhoods everywhere throughout the summer. Since the laws in Rhode Island have changed to allow some forms of fireworks, they’re available almost anywhere. This means more people are playing with fire.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, an average of 206 people in the U.S. went to the emergency room each day in the month surrounding Independence Day in 2023. The Lifespan emergency departments have certainly seen their share of fireworks-related injuries as well.

Common firework injuries

Dr. Mark Zonfrillo, a pediatric emergency medicine physician at Hasbro Children’s Hospital, says, “The most common injuries are burns, which can range from minor to severe, with some resulting in permanent scarring or loss of function.” Dr. Zonfrillo adds that explosive fireworks can also result in a loss of vision or hearing. “The most severe firework injuries are amputations and other significant traumatic injuries, or even death.”

The dangers of sparklers

Who doesn’t remember the thrill of watching trails of light jump from sparklers? Although sparklers can trigger nostalgia, it doesn’t mean they’re safe. In fact, sparklers result in nearly a third of all fireworks-related injuries. Each of those bright showers of light can burn at over 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit!

“Children should never handle any fireworks, including sparklers,” says Dr. Zonfrillo. As a safe alternative, he suggests glow stick bracelets or necklaces and other novelty items that light up.

Looking for a safer way to enjoy the festivities? Attend a professional fireworks display! They’re handled by professionals who are trained to work with such explosives. Not to mention, they also take away the dangers of home fireworks and risk for injuries.

Consider ear protection from fireworks noise

The boom of fireworks can be heard for miles around. While this can be exciting, it can also be damaging to the ears. The sound of exploding fireworks can reach up to 155 decibels, which is more than an airplane at lift off (150 decibels). If you're angling for a spot close to the fireworks action, consider using earplugs or other protective ear devices that will muffle the booming and protect your hearing.

Enjoy your holiday and keep your family safe during this fireworks safety month. For more tips, visit the Injury Prevention Center Firework Safety webpage.

Lifespan Blog Team

The Lifespan Blog Team is working to provide you with timely and pertinent information that will help keep you and your family happy and healthy.