The danger from fireworks remains real. Here’s how to stay safe this July 4th.

In 2022, the number of people with serious firework injuries admitted to Rhode Island Hospital’s and Hasbro Children Hospitals’ trauma center was double that of the previous three years.

July 3, 2023 4:30 am

Fireworks injuries can take the fun out of Independence Day festivities fast. (Corri Seizinger/iStock)

Celebrating Fourth of July is traditionally marked with firework displays across the country, both as formal events run by a city or town fire department and more informally in neighborhoods and backyards. It’s a time-honored display to mark America’s birthday. And, since Rhode Island’s law changed to allow some form of fireworks, they can be purchased easily from almost anywhere.

Mishandling fireworks can lead to devastating burns, other injuries, fires, and even death. (Source National Fire Protection Association)

At Rhode Island Hospital and Hasbro Children’s Hospital, both Level 1 Trauma Centers and Verified Burn Centers, we encourage everyone to enjoy this holiday safely. Many people don’t understand that the danger from fireworks remains real. Fireworks, including sparklers and flares, may cause serious burns as well as blast injuries that can permanently impair vision and hearing. 

Last year, the number of people with serious firework injuries admitted to our hospitals’ trauma center was double that of the previous three years. Nationwide in 2022, according to the Consumer Produce and Safety Commission:

  • 10,200 people were treated in emergency rooms across the country for firework related injuries,
  • 73% of those injuries occurred in the weeks immediately before or following the 4th of July holiday,
  • 40% of fireworks injuries happen to children under the age of 15,
  • 38% of injuries treated were burns (most commonly, hands and fingers but also the head, face, and ears),
  • And 11 people died as the result of a firework injury.

Please remember, attending professional firework displays are always the safest option. These celebrations are run by professionals who are certified and trained to work with explosives. This way, everyone can enjoy the celebrations without the worry of getting hurt. But, if you do choose to use fireworks or sparklers at home, there are some helpful reminders: 

  • Refrain from consuming alcohol or using recreational drugs.
  • Stay away from fireworks that aren’t clearly labeled with the name of the item, the manufacturer’s name, and instructions for proper use.
  • Keep fireworks or sparklers out of the hands of children; offer glow bands and glow sticks as a safer alternative.
  • Be sure other people and pets are out of range before lighting fireworks.
  • Only light fireworks in a cool place, on a smooth, flat surface away from buildings, dry leaves, and flammable materials.
  • Never carry fireworks in your pocket. 
  • Never re-light fireworks that have not fully functioned.
  • Never light fireworks that look defective.
  • Keep a bucket of water handy, and soak used fireworks for at least 10 minutes after igniting.

In the event anyone is hurt, do not hesitate to call 9-1-1 and teach children how to call in the event of an emergency. And it’s always good to remember “Stop, drop, and roll!” if clothing catches fire and practice the drill with young children. 

We are here for you at Rhode Island Hospital and Hasbro Children’s Hospital. There are staff available to care for any injured person 24/7. Still, we hope you never need us. The Fourth of July is a holiday that is meant for all Americans to share together and have some fun during the warmer summer months. Remembering to keep some basic safety tips in mind can really go a long way as you keep you, your friends, and your family busy with activities and celebrations throughout the long weekend.


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Nie Bohlen
Nie Bohlen

Nie Bohlen, MSN RN, is the director of trauma, burn and children’s surgery verification at Rhode Island Hospital and Hasbro Children’s Hospital.