For a Safe Fourth of July Stick to Professional Fireworks Displays, Urges State Health Commissioner

ALBANY, NY, July 3, 2007 – State Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D., today urged New Yorkers to enjoy a safe Fourth of July and "leave the fireworks to the professionals."

"Fireworks can and do cause injury and, in some cases, serious injury." Daines said.

Daines said adults should never entertain with fireworks, and parents should never allow the use of fireworks by their children. "Most communities offer public fireworks displays that are accessible, safe, and a great source of family fun," Daines said. "I urge families to celebrate Independence Day safely at a public display and steer clear of private fireworks."

Despite being illegal in New York State, the private use of fireworks is responsible each year for eye and ear damage, burns, and puncture wounds. In 2006, fireworks accounted for 146 injuries in New York State that required hospital treatment. Youth under age 15 accounted for 30 percent of all fireworks-related hospitals visits. Of the 126 individuals who sought emergency room care, 20 required hospitalization.

Common causes of fireworks-related injuries are:

  • A fast-fuse firecracker explodes before it can be thrown;
  • A misguided rocket strikes a bystander; and,
  • A curious youngster goes to investigate why a firecracker has "failed" to explode.

Even sparklers can be lethal because they burn at more than 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit. According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), sparklers accounted for 17 percent of fireworks-related injuries in 2005.

Overall, CDC national statistics for the Fourth of July holiday period in 2005, the most recent year available, reveal that:

  • About 45 percent of persons injured from fireworks were children age 14 or younger;
  • Males were injured by fireworks more than twice as often as females;
  • Children ages 10 to 14 had the highest injury rate for fireworks-related injuries;
  • Injuries most frequently involved hands and fingers, accounting for 31 percent of injuries; eyes, accounting for 25 percent; and the head and face, accounting for 20 percent; and,
  • More than half of injuries were burns, which are the most common injury to all body parts except the eyes. Eye injuries most frequently involved contusions, lacerations and imbedded foreign bodies.

More information is available at the CDC Web site: http://www.cdc.gov/Features/SummertimeSafety/.