As we make our final preparations to celebrate the Fourth of July, the Anne Arundel County Fire Department reminds every one of the dangers associated with illegal fireworks and the improper use of legal ground-based displays.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), fireworks start an average of 18,500 fires per year, including 1,300 structure fires, 300 vehicle fires, and 16,900 outside and other fires. These fires caused an average of three deaths, 40 civilian injuries, and an average of $43 million in direct property damage. On average, 250 people go to the emergency room every day with fireworks-related injuries around the July 4th holiday. Injuries from the intense heat of fireworks typically harm the eyes, head, hands, arms or legs. Some burns leave disfiguring scars that last a lifetime.
Fireworks have been the cause of injuries and fires in Anne Arundel County:
- July 4, 2017- Fire Investigators investigated two separate cases in which individuals received injuries from fireworks and were driven by friends to Baltimore Washington Medical Center. One person suffered a hand injury when they picked up a firework that landed near them and it exploded. A second person received burns to their chest when they lit a roman candle.
- June 2016- A 19-year-old man using a legal sparkler device purchased in Anne Arundel County was injured when the device malfunctioned and exploded in his face. The patient received eye injuries and concussive ear injuries.
- January 2016- five people were injured in Arnold when an illegal firework (mortar), was placed into the wrong size PVC pipe being used as a launch tube. The mortar became lodged in the launch tube and exploded, sending shrapnel in all directions.
- July 2014- The improper and dangerous use of legal sparklers inside a dwelling caused a fire in a Hanover, which caused $50,000 damage. During the investigation of the fire, Fire Investigators discovered illegal fireworks within the home which were confiscated and a citation issued to the occupants for possession of illegal fireworks.
- June 2013- Improperly disposed of fireworks caused a dwelling fire near Annapolis, which did $250,000 in damage.
- July 2008- a home in Odenton sustained damage in a fire caused by a 12-year-old occupant using fireworks in his bedroom
Despite federal and state regulations on the type of fireworks available for sale to the general public, even those fireworks that are sold legally carry an elevated risk of personal injury. For example, sparklers, which are legal in the majority of states, burn at temperatures nearing 2000°F. Their colorful sparks distract from the potential dangers and sparklers are predominately used by young children.
- Fireworks were involved in an estimated 12,900 injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments during calendar year 2017.
- 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 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).
Fireworks can be dangerous and deadly. The safest way to enjoy them is through public displays conducted by professional pyrotechnicians hired by communities over July 4th or at other times during the year. Parents need to be especially vigilant during this period in assuring that children do not possess dangerous fireworks or mishandle legal ones.
A list of area 4 th of July celebrations can be found at the State of Maryland Tourism site http://www.visitmaryland.org/article/4th-of-july-celebrations.