stay safe and sane for july 4th 5f621ff3a9598

Stay Safe and Sane for July 4th

Las Vegas Plastic Surgery


It is that time of year again to celebrate Independence Day.  Barbecues, good friends, and family are all part of the celebration.  Many will view firework displays and some will light their own fireworks at home.

While most celebrations go without a problem, there is always a possibility of injury.  This time of year medical professionals are called upon to treat injuries from fireworks, typically injury to the hands and face.  We have seen some significant injuries over the years.  Plastic surgeons are trained in a variety of procedures including aesthetic, reconstructive, microsurgery and hand surgery. 

This would be a good time to review this subject and offer some safety tips

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

  • There were eight non-occupational fireworks related deaths during 2017.  Reporting of firework deaths is not complete, and so this number should be taken as a minimum.
  • Fireworks were involved in an estimated 12,900 injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments during calendar year 2017.  This is significantly increased since an estimated 8,700 injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments during calendar year 2012.
  • Of the fireworks related injuries sustained, 70 percent were to males, and 30 percent were to females.
  • Children younger than 15 years of age accounted for approximately 30 percent of the estimated 2012 injuries. Forty-six percent of the estimated emergency room-treated, fireworks-related injuries were to individuals younger than 20 years of age.
  • More than half of the emergency department-treated injuries were burns. Burns were the most common injury to all parts of the body (57%), except the eyes, where contusions, lacerations, and foreign bodies in the eyes occurred more frequently.
  • Children younger than 15 years of age accounted for 36 percent of the estimated 2017 injuries. Fifty percent of the estimated emergency department treated fireworks related injuries were to individuals younger than 20 years of age.
  • Children 10 to 14 years of age had the highest estimated rate of emergency department treated, fireworks related injuries (5.9 injuries per 100,000 people).
  • Young adults 20 to 24 years of age had the second highest estimated rate (5.8 injuries per 100,000 people).
  • There were an estimated 1,200 emergency department treated injuries associated with sparklers and 300 with bottle rockets.
  • The parts of the body most often injured were hands and fingers (an estimated 31 percent); head, face, and ears (an estimated 22 percent); legs (an estimated 17 percent); eyes (an estimated 14 percent); and arms (an estimated 6 percent)
  • Fifty three percent of the emergency department treated injuries were burns. Burns were the most common injury to hands, fingers and arms.

Hand Surgeons Agree: Leave Fireworks to the Professionals

The American Society for Surgery of the Hand (ASSH) urges the public to leave fireworks in the hands of the professionals.

Of the finger, hand, and arm injuries, the majority of injuries were caused from accidents involving firecrackers, bottle rockets, and sparklers— the three firework-types most often used in a backyard environment. Accidents involving firecrackers, bottle rockets, and hand-held sparklers totaled 57% of all firework injuries (source: American Pyrotechnic Association).

ASSH encourages individuals to attend public fireworks displays, which are monitored for safety by a local fire department, rather than setting off fireworks near or around the home.

Remember, one still has to be vigilant even when watching a public firework display.

The following precautions should be taken when attending a public fireworks display:

  • Obey safety barriers and ushers.
  • Stay back a minimum of 500 feet from the launching site.
  • Resist the temptation to pick up firework debris when the display is over. The debris may still be hot, or in some cases, the debris might be “live” and could still explode.
  • Never give children hand-held sparklers. Sparklers cause 10% of all firework injuries (source: American Pyrotechnics Association)—and were associated with the most injuries to children under 5 years of age. (source: U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission)

Some will still desire to celebrate the 4th of July with family, friends and neighbors in their backyards.  With this in mind, we offer some backyard fireworks tips.

In Las Vegas, NV, the Authorities have made it known that they are stepping up enforcement of laws against illegal fireworks.

Backyard Fireworks Tips

Forty-six of the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia allow legal “consumer” fireworks for the Fourth of July.  The definition of consumer fireworks varies from state to state, but can include everything from cone fountains to roman candles to multiple tube “cake” devices to sparklers.  Before using fireworks, find out what’s legal in your state by checking the state law summary for your state by clicking here.

If your state does allow fireworks, remember that even legal fireworks can cause injury if they’re not used properly.  Consider the following tips when planning your Independence Day fireworks fun:

  • Store fireworks in a cool, dry place
  • Always read and follow the directions on the label
  • Always have an adult present when handling fireworks
  • Never give fireworks to young children, even sparklers!
  • Use fireworks outdoors in a safe, non-wooden area
  • Having a working garden hose or bucket of water handy
  • Keep everyone a safe distance away from fireworks
  • Light only one firework at a time
  • Never re-ignite a firework that doesn’t light the first time or one that has finished its display
  • Never carry fireworks in your pocket
  • Don’t throw fireworks at another person
  • Keep pets indoors and away from fireworks
  • Never shoot fireworks in metal or glass containers
  • Keep spectators at a safe distance
  • Always wear safety glasses when igniting fireworks

With these safety tips in mind, it is our hope that everyone will enjoy a safe and sane Independence Day.

Jeffrey J. Roth, M.D., F.A.C.S.
Las Vegas Plastic Surgery
(702) 450-0777


American Society for Surgery of the Hand

American Pyrotechnics Association

Fireworks Sate Law directory

2017 Fireworks Annual Report Fireworks-Related Deaths, Emergency Department-Treated Injuries, and Enforcement Activities During 2017.  U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.  June 2017

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