Living Well - WMHS Blog

Firework Safety

From backyard barbeques to community festivals, fireworks are a popular way to celebrate some of the traditions of summer. Unfortunately, fireworks and their counterparts can cause serious injury and death.

Fireworks Injury Statistics

The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that approximately 12,000 people receive treatment for a firework-related injury at hospital emergency rooms every year and 10 people die. Thousands of others receive minor injuries that don’t require hospital treatment. Nearly two-thirds of these people received their injuries when trying to ignite professional-grade, homemade, or another type of illegal firework. The other one-third of injuries occurred among people using legal products that had more power than they expected.

In addition to the significant injuries and preventable deaths attributed to fireworks use, these explosives also cause an extensive amount of structural and property damage each year. According to the National Fire Protection Association, the incorrect use of fireworks-related products causes more than 1,200 home fires annually.

Fireworks Safety Tips for the Whole Family

If you choose to buy legal fireworks products, you should not permit children to handle them in any way. Even older children that normally display mature judgment should have close adult supervision while handling these products. Here are some other safety tips that we recommend at Western Maryland Health System (WMHS):

  • Keep a bucket of cold water close so it’s handy if you need to put out any unexpected flames
  • For products that you don’t end up using, soak them in cold water for two to three hours before you throw them away
  • Never light any type of fireworks product inside a home or garage
  • Make sure that you and anyone else who handles a potentially explosive device wears protective eye gear the entire time
  • If a product appears malfunctioned and won’t light after one attempt, set it aside to discard rather than attempt to re-light it
  • Never place any type of explosive device inside of a container before igniting it
  • Never light multiple devices at the same time
  • When using a firework-type of product, ensure that you’re at least several hundred yards from other people, homes, or anything that could catch fire if you’re unable to control the device

We encourage you to go to the WMHS emergency department immediately if you or a member of your party experiences an emergency related to fireworks or ground sparklers. We use a triage system in our emergency department, which means that those with the most serious injuries receive medical care first. Our emergency/trauma telephone number is 240-964-1200 and the number for non-urgent care concerns is 240-964-1300. The WMHS emergency department is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Please note, the information provided throughout this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content, including text, graphics, images, and video, on or available through this website is for general information purposes only. If you are experiencing relating symptoms, please visit your doctor or call 9-1-1 in an emergency.