Every year, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission issues a stern warning about the dangers of fireworks.
And every year, thousands of people nevertheless suffer severe injury, even from garden-variety sparklers.
In its newest annual report, the agency provided details on a tragic case from a few days after last year’s Fourth of July: A 4-year-old Wisconsin girl was killed in an accident caused by sparklers.
The girl’s father had packed a metal tube full of sparklers and lit them, causing the tube to blow apart, according to the agency and local news accounts. The girl, who was standing 10 to 12 feet away, was struck in the neck by shrapnel and died soon thereafter.
People who survive fireworks blasts, such as a Pennsylvania woman who lost an eye in a 2000 accident, can suffer effects long afterward. Surgeons were able to save that woman’s other eye, but she experienced migraine headaches for years.
Other details from the new federal report include:
- Fireworks were involved in an estimated 12,900 injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments in 2017 — a rate of 4 injuries per 100,000 people. That marked the highest number in at least 16 years, though agency officials cautioned that the figure was an estimate, and that they could not determine whether such injuries are on the rise.
- At least eight people died in fireworks accidents in 2017, including the Wisconsin girl. Seven died from direct impacts, while the other victim, a 52-year-old Florida man, died in a house fire after his sister threw a lit firecracker at a rodent, setting the home’s insulation ablaze, the agency said.
The federal agency also performed a more detailed analysis of the four-week period that included Independence Day, when most injuries occurred. Of the 8,700 cases during that period, 70 percent were sustained by males. In incidents for which the type of fireworks was identified, sparklers were the most common cause of injury, with 1,200 cases. Burns were the most common type of injury, accounting for 53 percent of the total treated in emergency departments, followed by contusions and lacerations (26 percent).