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Lisa Black

Every year, children and teens are among the thousands of people injured while using fireworks in their back yards or at parties. Consumer fireworks have also sparked dangerous wildfires and fires to structures as homes.

The American Academy of Pediatrics urges families to resist the temptation and find safer ways to celebrate the holiday this year.

“We know that sales of fireworks increased in 2020 as did injuries, so parents and caregivers need to be vigilant this 4th of July, and leave any fireworks to the professionals,” said James Dodington, MD, CPST, FAAP, a member of the AAP Council on Injury, Violence, and Poison Prevention’s Executive Committee.

Severe injuries and deaths from fireworks increased last summer, too. About 15,600 people were treated in hospital emergency departments for fireworks injuries in 2020, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and at least 18 people died. 

Roughly 1,100 of those injured were under age 5;,1,400 were 5 to 14, and 1,300 were 15 to 19. Injuries included burns and wounds to the hands and fingers (30%); head, face, and ears (22%); eyes (15%); legs (13%); and arms (12%).

The AAP offers these tips for safer ways to celebrate, which news outlets may use with proper attribution.

  • View from a safe distance. While there may be fewer public firework displays this year, some communities are bringing them back with COVID-19 vaccines now available for ages 12 and up. If your children are too young to get the COVID-19 vaccine yet, be sure to stay a safe physical distance at public gatherings. Anyone over age 2 who isn’t vaccinated yet should also wear a mask to avoid the spread of COVID-19. This is especially true with the highly contagious Delta variant of COVID-19 circulating this summer. 
  • Wave a flag instead of a sparkler. Sparklers may seem relatively harmless, as fireworks go.  But according to the CPSC, nearly half of fireworks injuries to children under age 5 are related to sparklers. Surprising? Consider this:
    • Sparklers burn at an extremely high heat: 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit—hot enough to melt some metals. Sparks can ignite clothing on fire and cause eye injuries.
    • Touching a lit sparkler to skin can result in third degree burns.
    • There were about 900 emergency department-treated injuries associated with sparklers in 2020. Roughly 1,600 more injuries were related to firecrackers, 600 to Roman candles, and 600 more to bottle rockets and other rockets.
  • Protect your child’s hearing. Fireworks and firecrackers can reach can be as loud as 150 decibels—a lot louder than what’s considered a safe listening level (75–80 decibels). At close distance, even one loud burst is enough to cause some permanent hearing loss, according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Stay at least 500 feet away from the fireworks launch site.
  • Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.

To request an interview, contact AAP Public Affairs.


The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 67,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults.

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