The July 4th is America’s day to celebrate indepedence and national pride. Lighting off fireworks is tradition that many people safely enjoy. Unfortunately, despite repeated warnings by medical and law enforcement officials, the Fourth of July is considered by many experts to be the most dangerous American holiday. Personal injury accidents of all kinds see a rise in the days before and after the Fourth. Firework accidents kill, maim, and otherwise injure Americans every year. This hasn’t changed in 2017.
Newark, CA teen injured among dozens of reported firework accidents this holiday
An 18-year-old Newark resident sustained life-threatening injuries, and lost a portion of his left hand, while setting off illegal fireworks on Tuesday. The teenager was operating a firework mortar, and while loading the tube there was a massive explosion. Few Bay Area cities allow for the use of “safe and sane” fireworks. Newark is one of those cities. A Newark Police Department spokesman described the mortar as “definitely illgal, not safe and sane.”
The Newark teen was just another victim of firework accidents this year, and far from the only reported incident in California. In Anaheim, illegal fireworks started a residential building fire during a local celebration. A resident was apparently lighting fireworks from their balcony when a small fire started. Firefighters reported firework debris on the balcony and in the nearby street.
All around the US, firework accidents claimed victims
- In Auburn, Washington, two young boys were injured after a firework exploded in one of their hands. Reportedly, they had picked one up found at a designated fireworks area. In the same city, two more people blew off a hand when handling fireworks.
- Five people suffered burn injury in New York when illegal fireworks in their SUV ignited. Reportedly the vehicle was suffering electrical problems, which somehow set the fireworks off.
- A Chicago man died after being struck in the head by a mortar-launched firework. The man reportedly lit the mortar fuse, and when the firework did not launch he leaned over the tube to check. He was rushed to a local hospital, where he died of his injuries.
Firework accident statistics
The U.S Consumer Product Safety Commision has done research on firework accidents in the US. According to their statistics, an average of 230 firework-related injuries occur due to 4th of July celebrations. Roughly 34 percent of the victims are aged 25-44 years old. Males make up the staggering majority of victims.
While many accidents are caused by illegal or “unsafe” fireworks, nearly 20 percent of all firework accidents are caused by the humble sparkler. These thin sticks are typically thought of as “children’s fireworks”. Improperly handled, the sparkler can cause severe burn injuries. Smaller children can lose partial use of hands from sparkler-caused burns. The full CPSC infographic can be found here.
A surprising majority of firework accidents occur in family-and-friends settings. Large firework shows account for fewer deaths and injuries in the US.
Law enforcement agencies do what they can to curtail illegal and unsafe fireworks. Cities pass ordinances that make any fireworks illegal. And medical experts constantly warn of the dangers of fireworks. Every year, the same lists of safety tips are published online, recited in press releases, and repeated on radio stations. Unfortunately, firework accidents still happen, and some people must learn a hard lesson about the dangers posed by these incendiaries.