This Type of Firework Causes the Most Injuries

We love the loud booms and bursts of colors that light up the Fourth of July at our hometown fireworks display, but in nearby neighborhoods, people are setting off their own fireworks— and one of them is super dangerous.

Adults and children are igniting their own fireworks, but the “oohs” and “aahs” quickly turned to agony and a trip to the emergency room for some. According to the 2018 Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) fireworks report, firecrackers were the number one cause of injuries, accounting for 19 percent of the estimated 9,100 fireworks-related, emergency department-treated injuries during the one month (June 22 to July 22) Fourth of July festivities. Young males, aged 5 to 15, were injured the most by firecrackers, accounting for 500 of the estimated 1,000 firecracker injuries. Hands and fingers were the body parts affected the most when illegal firecrackers were used and injuries affecting the eyes were seen the most from smaller firecrackers.

All fireworks, including firecrackers, are potentially dangerous when they are not handled or used safely. Lighting a firecracker while holding it is a big no-no. When it explodes at a close range, the hands, fingers, and the face are in direct line of fire. Attempting to re-light a dud is super dangerous as it can explode unexpectedly. Launching firecrackers from other objects, throwing them at people, or lighting more than one at a time are also all scenarios that are risky.

If you still want to light a few firecrackers, it’s important to know which ones are legal. Legal firecrackers are limited to 50 milligrams of explosive composition and usually sold in small packages wrapped in red or other packaging containing instructions for use and warnings. “Consumers should beware of any firecracker not packaged with warnings and labels as they may be illegal explosives and very dangerous!” says Julie Heckman, executive director of the American Pyrotechnic Association (APA). By the way, M-80’s, M-1000s, and Quarter Sticks firecrackers are illegal in all states. Find out which, if any fireworks are legal in your state.

All firecrackers should be used under close adult supervision and outdoors, Heckman shares. Other safety measures include never holding a firecracker in your hand to light it, wearing safety glasses, placing the firecracker on a level surface on the ground, and lighting the fuse with an extended lighter, then moving away. If the firecracker doesn’t go off, don’t re-light it. Use a hose or other water source to soak the firecracker then safely dispose of it in an outdoor waste bin. Of course, the safest way to enjoy fireworks is to go to the top Independence Day firework display in every state.

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Lisa Marie Conklin
Lisa Marie Conklin is a Baltimore-based writer who writes regularly about pets and home improvement for Reader's Digest. Her work has also been published in The Healthy, HealthiNation, The Family Handyman, Taste of Home, and, among other outlets. She's also a certified personal trainer and walking coach for a local senior center. Follow her on Instagram @lisamariewrites4food and Twitter @cornish_conklin.