Fireworks Facts: 8 Deaths, 12,900 Injuries in 2017; $900M Sales Expected as States Ease Curbs

By | July 2, 2018

At least eight people lost their lives in fireworks mishaps in 2017 while another 12,900 ended up in hospital emergency rooms with injuries.

The deaths in 2017 included a four-year old Wisconsin girl who died from shrapnel when a metal tube filled with sparklers exploded after being set off by her father in their yard.

A Florida man who lived with his sister in a mobile home was killed when the home caught fire. His sister tried to solve a rodent problem by throwing a lit firecracker at a rodent. The firecracker lit the insulation of the mobile home and the mobile home became engulfed in flames. Her brother was unable to escape.

Last July, an 11-year-old boy was home alone in Kansas experimenting with fireworks and other explosive devices when a device blew up and a piece of metal went into his neck. He died from the injury.

Other deaths were reported in Illinois, Maine, Hawaii, Kentucky and Missouri.

The Consumer Product Safety Commissions (CPSC) received four death reports in 2016. It has received an average of seven fireworks-related death reports a year since 2002. The 2018 figure is preliminary.

About two-thirds of the 11,000 to 13,000 fireworks-related injuries reported each year happen around the July Fourth holiday — between mid-June to mid-July.

Children under 15 years of age experienced about 36 percent of the injuries, and males of all ages were involved in 70 percent.

Burns to fingers, hands and arms are the most common injury.

Among the different types of fireworks, sparklers accounted for 14 percent of the estimated injuries during the July Fourth period last year; reloadable shells were involved in 12 percent of the estimated injuries; and firecrackers were associated with 10 percent. Bottle rockets and homemade/altered devices were involved in three percent of the injuries each.

Public displays of fireworks are involved in less than one percent of injuries.

Experts say that consumer fireworks use and sales could hit an all-time high this year.

Sales Growth

The American Pyrotechnics Association (APA), which represents manufacturers, estimates that consumers spent $885 million on fireworks for the Fourth of July last year, a $60 million increase over 2016. The group expects sales to top $900 million this holiday season.

According to Julie L. Heckman, executive director of the APA, one reason sales are growing is that more states now allow them. Massachusetts is the only state to still ban all sales, according to the APA’s map of states’ fireworks laws. Since 2011, eleven states — Kentucky, Utah, New Hampshire, Michigan, New York, Georgia, West Virginia, Iowa, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware — have lifted restrictions on the sale of certain types of consumer fireworks in order to gain the tax revenues.

Three states (Illinois Ohio and Vermont) allow only sparklers and other novelty items.

Just a year after Iowa reinstated firework sales in 2017, several of the state’s biggest cities have already implemented new bans and restrictions.

The trade group says that fireworks are improving in their quality, while also acknowledging that when it comes to injuries “there is still work to be done as the vast majority of fireworks-related injuries in the U.S. each year result from the misuse of fireworks.”

CPSC last year debuted a video dramatizing the dangers of various popular fireworks including sparklers and bottle rockets when they are misused.

New York Giants professional football player Jason Pierre-Paul also filmed a public service announcement with CPSC in which he talks about the fireworks injury that blew off much of his hand in 2015. “Leave fireworks to the fireworks professionals,” Pierre-Paul says in the video.


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