The New York State Department of Health: The Emergency Department is No Place to Celebrate the Fourth of July

Firework-Related Injuries Led to Approximately 10,000 Emergency Department Visits in U.S. in 2019

ALBANY, N.Y. (July 1, 2021) – The New York State Department of Health today urged New Yorkers to celebrate the Fourth of July safely by using legal sparklers and leaving stronger fireworks that are illegal in NY to the experts. Each year fireworks are responsible for eye and ear damage, burns, puncture wounds and permanent scarring.

"As New Yorkers gather to spend time with family and friends during the Fourth of July weekend, I urge them to put safety first," said New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker. "It is essential to teach children, and remind adults, that fireworks are not toys and can be dangerous. Please make the safe choice to enjoy the numerous public fireworks displays this Independence Day instead of risking your health by trying it at home."

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), in 2019 there were approximately 10,000 fireworks-related injuries nationwide that required emergency department treatment. Approximately 73 percent of those injuries occurred in a one-month period around July 4th and about 40 percent of the injuries were to children under 15 years of age.

In 2019, 140 New Yorkers required care from an emergency department for fireworks-related injuries. Sixty-eight percent of these fireworks-related injuries occurred in July, and children under the age of 15 accounted for 19 percent of them.

Common causes of fireworks-related injuries are:

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

Fireworks include firecrackers, bottle rockets, glow-worm/snakes that "glow" when ignited and sparklers. While sparklers are the only legal fireworks in New York State, they can still be dangerous because they burn at more than 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit, which is hot enough to melt gold. The state Office of Fire Prevention and Control offers tips for safe sparkler use here.

Consider using safer alternatives such as glow sticks, colored streamers or confetti poppers. Nearly 28% of fires started by fireworks each year happen on Independence Day, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

The Department of Health also recommends taking simple precautions while watching professional fireworks displays, including using earplugs to protect hearing, keeping a safe distance from the firework launch site and leaving pets at home. While enjoying fireworks displays outdoors, the Department also encourages taking proper precautions against COVID-19, particularly having unvaccinated individuals wear masks when in crowded outdoor events.