PHOENIX (3 On Your Side) - It only takes an instant for a backyard fireworks display to cause catastrophic -- even deadly -- injuries. Now, a new federal report is revealing a significant spike in fireworks incidents during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Patty Davis, a spokesperson for the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, said 18 people died in fireworks incidents in 2020, compared to 12 deaths in 2019. The report also shows an estimated 15,600 people went to the emergency department at a hospital for treatment for fireworks injuries compared to about 10,000 people the prior year.
"Many of the public fireworks displays were canceled last year. Consumers may have decided to make their own celebrations at home and that may have contributed to the injuries and the deaths," Davis told 3 On Your Side. "The most common type of injury that sent someone to the emergency room was a burn injury. Firecrackers were No. 1, in terms of being associated with the most injuries. And sparklers were No. 2."
Sparklers burn at approximately 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, which is about the same temperature as a blow torch, Davis said.
If you choose to use consumer fireworks, the CPSC recommends:
- Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks, including sparklers.
- Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy, in case of fire or other mishap.
- Light fireworks one at a time, then move away from the fireworks device quickly.
- Never try to relight or handle malfunctioning fireworks. Soak them with water, and throw them away.
- Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Move to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.
- Never point or throw fireworks, including sparklers, at anyone.
- After fireworks complete their burning, to prevent a trash fire, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding the device.
- Make sure fireworks are legal in your area, and only purchase and set off fireworks that are labeled for consumer use.
- Never use fireworks while impaired by alcohol or drugs.
"We found that out of the 18 deaths last year, eight of them involved someone having used alcohol or drugs prior to lighting that firework," Davis said. "It has deadly consequences, so don’t do it."
According to the CPSC report, children younger than 15 years old suffered about 18% of reported injuries.