6 Common Fireworks-Related Injuries

Doctor William C Lloyd Healthgrades Medical Reviewer
Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Written By Chris Illiades, MD on July 24, 2021
  • Happy Family Day
    Surefire Ways to Avoid Fireworks Injuries
    Independence Day means celebrations and picnics. It also means injuries from fireworks. Small fireworks and sparklers cause most of these injuries. A sparkler is not a child’s toy. Sparklers burn at temperatures that can melt metal. The best way to prevent injuries is to leave fireworks to the professionals. Watch from a safe distance. Be aware of these six common fireworks injuries, and what to do in case of an accident.
  • Firecracker Being Lit
    1. Hand Burns
    A burned hand or finger is the most common injury from fireworks. A minor burn causes redness and pain. More serious burns cause blisters. The most serious burns cause white leathery skin and damage under the skin. Don’t let children use fireworks. Never pick up a firework that has not gone off. If you do light fireworks, keep water close by in case of fire. Minor burns can be treated by cleaning and over-the-counter pain medicine. All other burns need emergency treatment.
  • Teenager with black eye and bandage
    2. Eye Injuries
    Eye injuries from fireworks can range from minor burns to complete loss of vision. An exploding firework sends dangerous particles flying through the air. They can pierce an eyeball. You can get an eye injury by standing too close. Wear protective eyewear if you are handling fireworks. Better yet, go to a fireworks show instead of doing fireworks at home. Stand at least 500 feet away. There is no first aid for a fireworks eye injury. Leave the eye alone and get emergency medical treatment.
  • Broken Hand
    3. Hand Fractures and Lacerations
    Besides burns, fireworks can cause severe hand injuries. These include deep cuts, torn tendons, and broken bones. Severe hand injuries require emergency treatment. Before emergency help arrives, a little first aid may help. Take off any jewelry, cover the hand with a clean cloth, put an ice pack on it, and keep the hand raised.
  • Mother with son and doctor
    4. Facial Injuries
    Powerful fireworks can cause serious injuries to the face. Besides harming the eyes, fireworks can burn the face. Severe injuries to the face can also include broken bones and loss of facial tissue. To keep from getting hurt, don't use any type of powerful firework. Never light a fuse with your head bent over the firework. If you do get injured, keep your head at a level above your heart. Put a clean cloth over the injury. Apply an ice pack. Get emergency care as soon as possible.
  • finger splint
    5. Loss of Finger
    Many severe hand injuries from fireworks cause loss of a finger or thumb. First aid includes cleaning, covering with a clean cloth, applying ice, and keeping the hand raised until you get emergency care. If part of a lost finger can be found, clean it with a saltwater solution. Then wrap it in gauze, put it in a watertight bag and place the bag on ice. Take the finger with you to the emergency room.
  • Examining ear with otoscope
    6. Hearing Loss
    Very loud noise from fireworks can cause hearing loss. This could be temporary or permanent. Noise is measured in decibels. Noise louder than 85 decibels can cause damage to hearing. A firework going off three feet away can be 150 decibels. Besides loss of hearing, symptoms can include ear pain and ringing in the ears. Stay at least 500 feet from fireworks to prevent hearing loss. First aid includes covering the ears and getting away from the noise. Then make an appointment for an ear and hearing check with your doctor.
6 Common Fireworks-Related Injuries
  1. National Fire Protection Association, Fireworks Fact Sheet, http://www.nfpa.org/safety-information/for-consumers/holidays/fireworks
  2. Consumer Product Safety Commission, Fireworks Information Center, http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Safety-Education/Safety-Education-Centers/Fireworks/
  3. American Society for Surgery of the Hand, Burns, http://www.assh.org/handcare/hand-arm-injuries/Burns
  4. American Academy of Ophthalmology, Practicing Fireworks Eye Safety, http://www.geteyesmart.org/eyesmart/living/eye-injuries/fireworks-eye-safety.cfm
  5. British Society for Surgery of the Hand, Hand Fractures (General Information), http://www.bssh.ac.uk/patients/commonhandconditions/handfracturesgeneral
  6. Western Journal of Emergency Medicine, Facial Firework Injury: A Case Series, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4100840/
  7. American Academy of Otolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery, Facial Sports Injuries, http://www.entnet.org/content/facial-sports-injuries
  8. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, Fingertip Injuries and Amputations, http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00014
  9. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, Noise, http://www.asha.org/public/hearing/Noise/
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Last Review Date: 2021 Jul 24
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.