Stay Safe this Fourth of July Holiday

State Health Commissioner Advises: Leave Fireworks to Professionals

Albany, N.Y. (July 2, 2009) – This Fourth of July the New York State Department of Health reminds New Yorkers to celebrate our nation's birthday safely, and to avoid needless injuries from fireworks. In 2007, fireworks accounted for 92 injuries in New York State that required hospital treatment. Every summer children and adults suffer injuries, sometimes even resulting in death, from using home fireworks.

"To fully enjoy the Fourth of July weekend, ensure your family's safety and avoid the private use of fireworks," said State Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D. "Adults should never entertain with fireworks, and parents should never allow the use of fireworks by children."

Fireworks are illegal in New York State but the private use of fireworks is responsible each year for eye and ear damage, burns, puncture wounds and permanent scarring. In 2007, there were 78 fireworks related outpatient emergency room visits and 14 hospitalizations. Youth under age 15 accounted for 21 percent of all fireworks-related hospital visits.

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.

Fireworks include firecrackers, bottle rockets, glow-worm/snakes that "glow" when ignited, and sparklers. Even sparklers can be lethal because they burn at more than 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit - hot enough to melt gold.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) statistics for 2006, show that nationally, children aged 14 or younger accounted for 45 percent of all persons injured as a result of July 4 fireworks. The CDC reports that the number of males injured by fireworks is more than twice the number of injuries in females.

In a typical year, more fires are reported on July 4 nationally than on any other day, and fireworks account for half of those fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

"Celebrate Independence Day safely at a public fireworks display and leave the lighting to the professionals. Most communities offer displays that are accessible, safe, and a great source of family fun," said Commissioner Daines.

Taking simple precautions while watching fireworks displays, such as using earplugs to protect hearing, avoiding the fireworks launch site and leaving pets at home can help keep everyone safe this holiday.

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