While the Fourth of July is always a good time for a get-together with family and friends, Independence Day can also present some dangers when Americans light up the fireworks.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission‘s latest report says there were an estimated 15,600 firework-related injuries resulting in hospital treatment in 2020. There were also 18 fireworks-related deaths, CPSC says.
Twelve of the 18 deaths happened when fireworks were misused. CPSC also said the 18 deaths “should be considered a minimum” for 2020, seeing as reporting had not been completed by the time CPSC findings were published.
While information on device types can’t be completed, seeing as many victims may not report which devices they were injured by, CSPC breaks down injuries by device type with the information available.
Rockets – 600 injuries
Firecrackers – 1,600 injuries
Other devices (Roman candles, sparklers, fountains, multiple tube) – 2,400 injuries
Unknown – 5,300 injuries
Injuries also occur when commercial fireworks (the kinds used for an approved fireworks show) are used for non-commercial purposes by individuals. These are often called “illegal” fireworks, since they’re illegal for the public to use.
Among the most dangerous things that can happen when dealing with fireworks is altering them. You should never add or subtract any material to/from a firework.
Additionally, multiple deaths reported in 2020 involved fireworks being set off in places where they’re not intended to be set aflame, like moving vehicles.
The CPSC says 66% of all the estimated fireworks-related injuries in 2020 happened between June 21 and July 21. There was also a particularly large spike in fireworks injuries in 2020, overall, perhaps due to the pandemic. Typically, the number of fireworks injuries jumps or falls by a 2,000+/- margin from year to year. But from 2019 to 2020, there was a 5,600-injury increase.
Overall, there were 136 fireworks-related deaths between 2005 and 2020.
Dangerous as they may be, firework sales are big business each year. WalletHub estimates show Americans spent over $1.5 billion on fireworks in 2020 alone.