Notice to Readers: Injuries From Fireworks in the United States

Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 2000;49(24) 


Fireworks traditionally are used in the United States to celebrate Independence Day on July 4th. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that 8500 persons in the United States are treated in emergency departments each year for fireworks-related injuries [1]. Of all fireworks-related injuries, 70%--75% occur during a 30-day period that surrounds the July 4th holiday (June 23--July 23) [2]. Seven of every 100 persons injured by fireworks are hospitalized, approximately 40% of those injured are children aged <14 years, and males are injured three times more often than females [1]. The injury rate is highest among boys aged 10--14 years [3]. Most commonly, injuries from fireworks affect the hands (34%), face (12%), and eyes (17%) [4]. Injuries are more frequent and more severe among persons who are active participants than among bystanders[3].

The estimated annual cost of fireworks-related injuries is $100 million [4]. In 1997, the U.S. National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) estimated that fireworks were responsible for direct property damage of $22.7 million [5].

Although some types of fireworks are legal in some states, CDC, NFPA, and CPSC recommend that fireworks be used only by professionals. All fireworks potentially are dangerous (e.g., sparklers burn at more than 1000 F [538 C]), especially to children. Because fireworks are unregulated, there is always a risk for injury with fireworks. Additional information about fireworks safety is available from CDC on the World-Wide Web,, or CPSC,*

* References to sites of non-CDC organizations on the World-Wide Web are provided as a service to MMWR readers and do not constitute or imply endorsement of these organizations or their programs by CDC or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. CDC is not responsible for the content of pages found at these sites.

  1. US Consumer Product Safety Commission. National Electronic Injury Surveillance System data, 1997 [Machine-readable public use data tape]. Washington, DC: US Consumer Product Safety Commission, 1998.

  2. McFarland LV, Harris JR, Kobayashi JM, Dicker RC. Risk factors for fireworksrelated injury in Washington state. JAMA 1984;251:3251--4.

  3. Smith GA, Knapp JF, Barnett TM, Shields BJ. The rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air: fireworks-related injuries to children. Pediatrics 1996;98:1--9.

  4. CDC. Fireworksrelated injuries---Marion County, Indiana, 1986--1991. MMWR 1992;41:451--4.

  5. Hall JR Jr. Fireworks-related injuries, deaths, and fires in the U.S. Quincy, Massachusetts: National Fire Protection Association, Fire Analysis and Research Division, 1999.