The Ohio Affiliate of Prevent Blindness, Ohio Department of Commerce’s Division of State Fire Marshal, Child Injury Prevention Alliance, and the Ohio Eye Care Coalition joined forces at Nationwide Children’s Hospital  today to educate Ohioans about the dangers of backyard fireworks.

Ohioans are urged not to use backyard fireworks because of the high fire danger and the risk of personal injury – specifically to young children – and the potential penalty for breaking Ohio’s fireworks law.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) Fireworks Annual Report released Tuesday, in 2016 11,100 people were treated in emergency departments for firework-related injuries. An estimated 7,600 fireworks-related injuries, or 68 percent of people treated, occurred during the one-month period surrounding the Fourth of July Holiday.

"Prevent Blindness supports a total ban on backyard fireworks, including sparklers, which are widely available at grocery and department stores," said Sherry Williams, President & CEO of The Ohio Affiliate of Prevent Blindness. "Unfortunately, more and more states are going the route of legalization with dire consequences; Since 2008, five additional states have legalized discharge of consumer grade fireworks and during that same period of time, serious injuries increased by 60 percent from 2.3 injuries per 100,000 population in 2008 to 3.7 injuries per 100,000 populations in 2015," added Williams.

Injuries to children under the age of 15 accounted for 31 percent of the estimated firework-related injuries. Young adults 20 to 24 years of age had the highest estimated rate of emergency department-treated fireworks related injuries. The parts of the body most often injured were hands and fingers (an estimated 33 percent); head, face, and ears (an estimated 20 percent); legs (an estimated 18 percent); and eyes (an estimated 9 percent or 1000 eye injuries).

Gary A. Smith, MD, DrPH, president of the Child Injury Prevention Alliance, and a pediatric emergency medicine physician at Nationwide Children’s Hospital-Columbus said, "Our studies show that parental supervision is not enough to prevent consumer fireworks injuries to children – in fact, children who are simply bystanders and not even handling the fireworks are often injured. The words that I hear when parents bring their child crying in pain to the emergency department after a firework injury are always the same: ‘Doctor, I can’t believe that this happened to my child. I was standing right there, but it happened so fast that I could not do anything in time to stop it from happening’. These good parents simply believed the myth that these products could be used safely. Do not make that mistake with your family."

There are three types of fireworks in Ohio, all of which are hazardous: Trick and novelty items such as sparklers and snakes that can be legally sold and used by anyone; exhibitor fireworks which require a license to sell, purchase and use; and consumer class fireworks such as bottle rockets and roman candles, which require a license to sell. Consumer fireworks can be purchased by anyone over the age of 18, but must be removed from the state within a certain timeframe and cannot be legally discharged in Ohio

"The Division of State Fire Marshal encourages all Ohioans to attend public fireworks displays. These displays are hosted by local municipalities and licensed exhibitors," said Ken Klouda, Fire Prevention Bureau Chief. "Besides being safer and legal, professional fireworks displays are better than any exhibit that could be produced with consumer fireworks."

Fireworks Safety Facts:

•In 2016, 11,100 people were treated in emergency departments for firework-related injuries.

•There were four fireworks-related deaths.

•7,600 of the injuries (68 percent) occurred during a one-month period around the Fourth of July Holiday.

•According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, Approximately one third of eye injuries from fireworks result in permanent blindness.

•In 2016, fireworks caused 36 structure fires in Ohio, resulting in an estimated $1,219,351 in property loss and content loss.  These numbers are as reported to the State Fire Marshal’s Fire Prevention Bureau by Ohio’s fire departments.  

•The National Fire Protection Agency states that almost half (47%) of the reported fires on the Fourth of July were started by fireworks.

•The size of the fireworks product is no indication of the amount of the explosive material inside it.

•The major causes of injuries are due to delayed or early fireworks explosions, errant flight paths of rockets, debris from aerial fireworks, and mishandling of sparklers.

In just the one-month period surrounding the July 4th holiday last year there were 7,600 fireworks-related injuries:

•Firecrackers (1,300), reloadable shells (1,100), sparklers (900), and bottle rockets 400 accounted for the most injuries last year.

•The parts of the body most injured were hands and fingers (estimated 2,500 injuries), head, face, and ears (1,500 injuries), legs (1,400 injuries), eyes (700 injuries) and arms (600 injuries).

•Sparklers, often given to young children, burn at 1200 degrees or even hotter—hot enough to melt copper.

•For children under the age of five there were 900 injuries altogether, with sparklers accounting for 50 percent of the estimated injuries for that age group.

•Children younger than 15 years of age accounted for approximately 31 percent of the estimated 2016 injuries.  More than half of the estimated emergency department-treated, fireworks-related injuries were to individuals younger than 20 years of age.

•Of the fireworks-related injuries sustained, 61 percent were to males, and 39 percent were to females.

  Prevent Blindness has these tips to help prevent fireworks-related injuries:

•Do not purchase, use or store fireworks of any type.

•Be aware that even sparklers are dangerous and caused 50 percent of fireworks injuries in children five years old and younger last year.

  Prevent Blindness has these tips to help prevent fireworks-related injuries:

•Protect yourself, your family and your friends by avoiding fireworks.

•Attend only authorized public fireworks displays conducted by licensed operators, but be aware that even professional displays can be dangerous

•Support policies that ban the importation, general sale and indiscriminate usage of fireworks by children and adults.

The Ohio Eye Care Coalition offers the following guidance in responding to eye injuries:

•Do not delay medical attention, even for seemingly mild injuries. "Mild" injuries can worsen and end in vision loss or even blindness that might not have occurred had a doctor provided treatment early on.

•Do not rub the eye nor attempt to rinse out the eye.

•Avoid giving aspirin or ibuprofen to try to reduce the pain. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs thin the blood and might increase bleeding. Acetaminophen is the over-the-counter drug of choice.

•Do not apply ointment or any medication. It is probably not sterile. Also, ointments make the eye area slippery, which could slow the doctor’s examination at a time when every second counts.