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Fireworks-related Burn Injuries

Link to Spanish version.

In 2009, firework devices were involved in two deaths and nearly 9,000 injuries treated in hospital emergency departments in the U.S.

  • More than half of all injuries were burns.
  • Two-thirds of injuries occur in the days surrounding the July 4th holiday.
  • Males accounted for three-fourths of all injuries.
  • Children under age 15 are at greatest risk of injury, accounting for 40% of all injuries.
  • Eight out of every 100 injuries required hospital admission or transfer to a burn center.
  • The hands, eyes, and, head/face were the parts of the body most commonly injured.
  • Firecrackers and sparklers accounted for more than one-third of all injuries. Rockets, fountains, and roman candles also accounted for injuries.
  • Sparklers and rockets accounted for three-fourths of injuries to children under age five.
  • Injuries can be caused by errant flight paths of aerial fireworks, fireworks exploding earlier or later than expected, tipping over, and debris/hot material from the fireworks device.

Oklahoma Laws

  • It is illegal to offer fireworks for retail sale to residents of the state before June 15th or after July 6th, and before December 15th or after January 2nd.
  • It is unlawful to explode or ignite fireworks within 500 feet of any church, hospital, asylum, public school, unharvested agricultural crop, or where fireworks are stored or sold. In addition, fireworks may not be lit in or thrown from motor vehicles or thrown at/near a group of people.
  • The sale, gift, distribution, or use of skyrockets with sticks as defined by the U.S. Department of Transportation is prohibited. This prohibition includes, but is not limited to "bottle rockets." Other prohibited fireworks include “cherry bombs,” and “M-80’s.”
  • Any city or town can pass ordinances as deemed necessary to regulate or prohibit the sale and use of fireworks within its corporate limits.
  • Information on Oklahoma's fireworks laws can be accessed through the State Fire Marshal's website
  • Additional information regarding national fireworks regulations can be accessed at the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission website .

The following recommendations can help prevent fireworks-related injuries.

  • Never build or experiment with homemade fireworks.
  • Before using fireworks, be sure they are permitted. Check with your local police or fire department to determine what fireworks can be legally discharged in your area.
  • Never allow children to handle or ignite fireworks. Even sparklers burn at 2,000° Fahrenheit!
  • Read all warnings and instructions.
  • Be sure other people are out of range and warned before lighting fireworks.
  • Never hold fireworks while trying to ignite them.
  • Light only one firework at a time and then move away quickly.
  • Only light fireworks on a smooth, flat surface away from houses. Never light fireworks near dry leaves, brush, or flammable materials.
  • Never try to relight fireworks that have not functioned properly.
  • Keep a bucket of water nearby in case of a malfunction.
  • Contact the fire department if a fire starts.

The safest way to prevent fireworks-related injuries is to leave fireworks displays to trained professionals.

Injury Prevention Service, OSDH, 1000 NE 10th Street, Oklahoma City, OK 73117
Revised Mayo 2011

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