Fireworks injuries up dramatically over the past 15 years, consumer agency says

At least nine people died nationwide and an estimated 11,500 were injured last year in accidents involving fireworks, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

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Residents and tourists line the edge of Lake Michigan near Navy Pier to watch Chicago’s Fourth of July fireworks display, Saturday, July 2, 2022.

Residents and tourists line the edge of Lake Michigan near Navy Pier to watch Chicago’s Fourth of July fireworks display, Saturday, July 2, 2022.

Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Before you set off any of your own Fourth of July fireworks, here are some figures to keep in mind:

Fireworks injuries in the United States are up 25% over the past 15 years. And at least nine people died nationwide and an estimated 11,500 were injured last year in accidents involving fireworks, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

The number of fireworks injuries last year was down from 15,600 in 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic canceled many public fireworks shows and people resorted to setting off their own.

A new report from the federal consumer agency shows young adults — between 20 and 24 years old — have the highest fireworks injury rates.

According to the report, the parts of the body most often injured by fireworks last year were hands and fingers (31% of injuries) and head, face and ears (21% of injuries). About one-third of injuries involved burns.

The agency also selected and tested fireworks in 2021 and found that about 31% contained what they called noncompliant components, including problem fuses, prohibited chemicals or an overload of pyrotechnic materials.

Of the 353 fireworks-related violations the agency has issued over the past decade, three were to sellers in Illinois, 17 to sellers in Indiana and nine to sellers in Wisconsin. The violations included issues like illegal chemicals or having too short of a fuse burn time. 

Illinois has some of the strictest fireworks regulations in the country, and fireworks are illegal for personal use in Chicago.

Safety tips for anyone outside the city planning to shoot off their own:

  • Never let young children play with or ignite fireworks, including sparklers. Sparklers look harmless but can burn at up to 2,000 degrees.
  • Fireworks always should be lit one at a time without putting your body over them, and people should move quickly away.
  • Never try to re-light or handle a malfunctioning firework. Soak it in water, and throw it away. 

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