As families gear up for Fourth of July barbecues and festivities, the American Academy of Orthopedics Surgeons (AAOS) is reminding them to take caution when handling fireworks. From small-scale sparklers to larger firework displays, at-home safety measures are key to avoiding injuries to the fingers, hands, arms and face.
“It may be a tradition to let children and teens oversee fireworks, but parents should always be cautious. Fireworks-related injuries can have long-term and sometimes devastating effects,” said Tyler Steven Pidgeon, MD, FAAOS, orthopaedic hand surgeon and spokesperson for the AAOS. “Common fireworks, such as bottle rockets and hand sparklers, may seem tame, but the high temperatures of these devices can result in third-degree burns down to the bone or even loss of limbs.”
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), fireworks-related injuries are trending up. Between 2006 and 2021, injuries with fireworks climbed 25% in the U.S., according to CPSC estimates. In 2021, the parts of the body most often injured by fireworks were hands and fingers (an estimated 31 percent of injuries) along with head, face, and ears (an estimated 21 percent). About 32 percent of the emergency department-treated fireworks-related injuries in 2021 were for burns.
The AAOS offers the following safety tips to help prevent fireworks-related bone and joint injuries:
- Check with your local police department to determine if fireworks are legal in your area. If so, find out which types, and verify that there is not a burn ban in effect in your community that might create hazardous fire conditions.
- Never purchase or use illegal fireworks. Their quality cannot be assured.
- Only adults should light fireworks.
- Never allow young children to play with or go near fireworks, including sparklers. Some sparklers can reach temperatures of more than 1,000 degrees.
- Always have water close by in case of a fire, such as a hose hooked to a faucet or a nearby bucket of water.
- Wear safety eyewear when using fireworks.
- Soak used fireworks in water before discarding to prevent setting unintentional fires.
- Never try to relight a firework.
- If you are injured using fireworks, seek immediate medical attention.
- Never handle fireworks if you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
To schedule an interview with an AAOS expert about common orthopaedic hand or trauma injuries resulting from fireworks, email firstname.lastname@example.org. For additional information about fingertip injuries and amputations, visit OrthoInfo.org.