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For Immediate Release

Fourth of July Fireworks Spark Danger – Children’s Hospital Warns Adults to Keep Them Away From Kids to Prevent Injuries

Fireworks are a Fourth of July tradition, but every year in the weeks surrounding the holiday, several patients are admitted to Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC with severe, disfiguring injuries. Children’s wants to remind adults about the dangers allowing kids to play with fireworks and asks everyone to leave them to the professionals.

Since 2000, Children’s has admitted 22 patients due to firework-related injuries. “Kids need to know fireworks are not toys, but unpredictable explosives, containing the same ingredients used in gunpowder,” said Barbara A. Gaines, MD, director of the Benedum Trauma Program at Children's. “We see a lot of tragic accidents in which kids have gotten severely burned, lost fingers and even eyesight from fireworks exploding unexpectedly. The sad fact is these injuries are permanent.”

Nationwide, nearly 15,000 Americans are injured each year from fireworks, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Most are children, and most injuries occur during the weeks around the Fourth of July holiday. Men and boys are the most common users of fireworks, which is why 75 percent of firework injuries happen to males.

Though fireworks are illegal in Pennsylvania, it’s not uncommon to find fireworks distributors in states where fireworks are sold legally. Sparklers however, are legal in Pennsylvania, and many people mistakenly consider them safe. Yet, they are one of the leading causes of firework related injuries. Most of these injuries occur among young children. Sparklers burn fast, and can reach up to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit – hot enough to melt gold.

The only safe way to enjoy fireworks is to attend public events where professionals control them. When viewing public displays always keep a safe distance and stay within the established safety barriers – usually at least one-quarter mile from the fireworks.

Children’s offers safety tips in areas where fireworks are legal:

  • Children should never light fireworks.
  • Allow no horseplay and keep bystanders at a safe distance.
  • Carefully read all instructions before lighting fireworks.
  • Fireworks should never be lit in a container.
  • Do not relight malfunctioning fireworks.
  • Flammable liquids must be kept away from fireworks.
  • Fireworks must be lit outdoors by trained professionals.
  • Keep a bucket of water nearby in case of emergency.

Learn more at Children's Injury Prevention Web site.


Marc Lukasiak, 412-692-7919 or 412-692-5016,
Melanie Finnigan, 412-692-5502 or 412-692-5016,

Last Update
April 21, 2008
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Last Update
April 21, 2008