How Unsafe Are Fireworks? A Look at the Statistics

Let’s leave these to the professionals.

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The 4th of July means hot dogs, potato salad, Bruce Springsteen, and fireworks. That’s just a given. And don’t feel guilty for sitting down to a plate void of arugula and quinoa: It’s a holiday, so relax and enjoy your fresh-off-the-grill bratwurst.

But there’s one thing the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) wants you to quit for good, and it’s not the Springsteen: Ditch the DIY fireworks.

Bottle rockets, sparklers, firecrackers, and Roman candles seem harmless enough. They’re popular “toys” for even young children. But even these basic fireworks cause hundreds—and sometimes thousands—of visits to emergency rooms each year.

Think of it this way: A sparkler burns at 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit according to NFPA. That’s about six times the heat of boiling water. A sparkler can easily cause third-degree burns, especially in the hands of a running, twirling child.

If you’re reluctant to give up your colorful and glittery fireworks, you’ll want to check out just how much damage these not-so-innocent displays cause each year. Here are 11 statistics that might change your July 4th plans this year.

  • Fireworks cause an average of 18,500 fires each year, including to homes and other structures. (Here are home safety tips for fires.)

  • Fireworks cause an average of $43 million in property damage a year.

  • Fireworks caused almost 11,000 emergency room visits in 2016.

  • 39 percent of ER visits in 2016 were for children younger than 20.

  • 69 percent of ER visits in 2016 were from burns. (Find out how to treat a minor burn here.)

  • 7 percent of ER visits in 2016 were injuries to the eyes, including lacerations and punctures.

  • Sparklers caused 900 visits to the ER in 2016.

  • Bottle rockets caused 400 ER visits in 2016.

  • Firecrackers caused an astounding 1,300 ER visits in 2016.

  • Fireworks caused 114 deaths between 2001 and 2016—an average of 7 deaths per year.

The NFPA suggests leaving fireworks to the pros and off your lawn. Stick to the food and yard games, and enjoy fireworks safely at a public show executed by trained professionals.