This Fourth of July, celebrate good times with warm weather, family events, and fireworks. While fireworks safety seems like its common sense, approximately half of the 9,000 fireworks-related injuries that are treated in hospital emergency rooms occur on the Fourth of July every year, reports the United States Fire Administration/National Fire Data Center (FEMA). An overwhelming percentage of fireworks injuries fall under those aged between 25 to 44 years old with 74 percent of males and 26 percent of females accounting for these accidents around the holiday, says the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). According to CPSC statistics, adults experience the most injuries, which means they have often neglected or did not take the proper safety precautions when handling consumer fireworks. Fireworks-related accidents do occur each year, but most could be eliminated if some basic safety steps had been taken, notes Nancy Blogin, president of the National Council on Fireworks Safety, on the organization's website. Consumer fireworks are safe if "common sense rules" are followed, believes Blogin.

The most commonly injured parts of the body are hands and fingers (41 percent) followed by heads, faces and ears (19 percent), reports the CPSC. These injuries result in the misuse of fireworks rather than malfunction, which is why there is a high prevalence of hand incidents on this holiday. The American Society for Surgery of the Hand (ASSH) urges those who want to see fireworks to refrain from participating in backyard fireworks displays. "More than one-third of fireworks-related injuries include burns, lacerations, fractures and traumatic amputation to the fingers, hands or arms," said David M. Lichtman, M.D., president of the ASSH on their website.

The safest tip to follow is to watch a fireworks display put on by your city or a professional company to avoid fireworks-related injuries on the Fourth of July. However, if your state allows you to purchase fireworks, legally, it is important for you to know the three basic consumer types of fireworks and the safety tips you and your family should follow.

Three Main Types of Consumer Fireworks:


Firecrackers come in various sized packages from as little as 12 rolls to 20,000 celebration rolls. These types of fireworks come in different sized cases that indicate the total number of crackers represented by a special code printed on the label. For example, if a firecracker has a label that reads 6/80/16, that means that there are six units of 80 packs of crackers each, and each pack contains 16 crackers that are attached together on one string, says Power Keg Fireworks. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), small firecrackers can account for one-third of fireworks injuries.


Rockets can be divided into two subcategories — bottle rockets and skyrockets. The bottle rockets are small and a foot long that either whistle or explode and can obviously be launched from a bottle. Rockets are known to come in packs of a dozen. Skyrockets tend to be greater in length than rockets and contain effects such as stars, crackles, strobes, and parachutes. Larger skyrockets can range from three to five feet long with sections that can contain aerial shells.


Sparklers can be handheld fountains and display colored sparks. Sparklers account for 20 percent of fireworks related incidents, according to the NSC, as this firework is considered to be the only firework that is meant to be held. The two types of sparklers that exist are a metal rod, which is typically single-colored like gold or silver and easy to ignite and Morning Glory, which is attached to wooden rods with three different burning phases, says Power Keg Fireworks. The three burning phases of Morning Glory are: red flame that lasts for 20 seconds, crackle/snapping for 20 seconds, and green/white flame for 20 seconds. Sparklers can burn at 1,200°F, which can cause third-degree burns.

The National Council on Fireworks Safety suggests following these special tips for sparklers:

  • Always remain standing while using sparklers.
  • Never hold a child in your arms while using sparklers.
  • Never hold, or light, more than one sparkler at a time.
  • Never throw sparklers.
  • Sparkler wire and stick remain hot long after the flame has gone out. Be sure to drop spent sparklers in a bucket of water.
  • Teach children not to wave sparklers, or run, while holding sparklers.

Safety Tips For All Fireworks:

Water Bucket or Fire Extinguisher

It is important to always have a bucket of water or a fire extinguisher handy when using fireworks. If the weather is hot and the wind is approximately 10 miles per hour, you should avoid using fireworks at all costs. The temperature and the strong winds can spread a potential fire.

Light Fireworks In Remote Areas

Light fireworks away from people, houses, and materials that can are highly flammable. Fireworks caused an estimated 17,800 reported fires, including 1,200 total structure fires, 400 vehicle fires, and 16,300 outside and other fires, says the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). In total, there were eight civilian deaths, 40 civilian injuries, and $32 million in property damage. Spectators should remain a safe distance away from the original fireworks launch area — approximately 25-40 feet for fountains and ground-based items and 75-100 yards for aerial product.

Hand and Eye Safety

Hand and eye injuries are said to be the two biggest issues during the Fourth of July. These injuries are commonly caused by fireworks — whether it's from debris in the eyes or handling fireworks. "Alcohol consumption goes hand-in-hand with fireworks accidents." "If you are the person responsible for the explosives, you should not have a drink in your hand," Dr. Timothy Dougherty, M.D., medical director of Cape Coral Hospital Emergency Department, said to Lee Memorial Health System.

Children and Pets

Children should not be allowed to handle fireworks, and if they are older, adult supervision is still needed. It is important to not allow your child to pick up any fireworks debris in the ground after an event because it can bring on a series of health hazards.

While pets are considered to be part of the family, it is important to take into account their safety. Animals have sensitive ears and the sounds of fireworks can cause sudden fights among your pets. The various sound effects of fireworks can provoke your pet to run loose or get injured, so it is best to keep them indoors, preferably where they can still see the fireworks show, suggest the National Council on Fireworks Safety.