FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 2, 2021
For more information:
Prevent Blindness, Dori Jennings: 614-270-0746
Franklin County Dog Shelter, Andrew Kohn: 614-812-7492
Nationwide Children’s Hospital, 614-355-0495
Health and Safety Leaders Urge the Public to Celebrate
Independence Day Safely,
Leave Fireworks to Professionals
– 2020 Fireworks Injuries Reported at 20-year High –
COLUMBUS, OH (July 2, 2021) – The Ohio Affiliate of Prevent Blindness, the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, the Ohio Fireworks Safety Coalition, the Franklin County Dog Shelter, Grandview Heights Division of Fire, Grandview City Council, and the Ohio Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics joined forces in the Shelter’s back yard 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 CSPC 2020 Fireworks Annual Report released this week, an estimated 15,600 people were treated in emergency departments for firework-related injuries. An estimated 10,300 fireworks-related injuries, or 66 percent of people treated, occurred during the one-month period surrounding the Fourth of July Holiday. The report showed that emergency department visits for injuries involving fireworks increased significantly over the previous year– by 56 percent, the highest number of annual injuries recorded in the past 20 years. Injuries serious enough for hospital admission nearly doubled over the previous year.
Injuries to children under the age of 15 accounted for 24 percent of the estimated firework-related injuries. This specific population also represented the highest estimated rate of emergency department treated fireworks injuries. The parts of the body most often injured were hands and fingers (an estimated 30 percent); legs (an estimated 13 percent); eyes (an estimated 15 percent or 2,340 eye injuries); head, face, and ears (an estimated 22 percent); trunk (an estimated 7 percent); and arms (an estimated 12 percent).
“Many parents believe the myth that these products can be used safely or that smaller fireworks such as bottle rockets and sparklers are fun and safe,” explains Dr. Leah Middelberg, a pediatrician at Nationwide Children’s Hospital who specializes in injury prevention. “However, bottle rockets cause almost 60% of fireworks-related eye injuries and are the most common cause of fireworks-related structure fires. Sparklers burn at nearly 20000F, which can result in an instant skin burn and can easily ignite clothing. Two-thirds of sparkler-related injuries occur in children younger than 5 years.
“Prevent Blindness supports a total BAN on consumer discharge of backyard fireworks, including sparklers,” said Sherry Williams, President & CEO of the Ohio Affiliate of Prevent Blindness. “The Fourth of July can still be fun without backyard fireworks or sparklers. Not only will you avoid a tragic visit to the emergency room yourself, you will also respect the time, effort and resources available for patients affected by other health needs,” added Williams.
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, fountains 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.
“From a fire safety perspective, it is critical to remember that while we associate fireworks with 4th of July fun, they have enormous risks associated with them. For these reasons, we stress that if you can attend a professional firework show please do so rather than handling your own at home,” said Chief Greg Eisenacher, Grandview Heights Fire Department. “Many fireworks are not legal in Ohio and lead to severe injuries that could have easily been prevented. In my career, I have witnessed firsthand how one incident can change someone’s life forever. Accidents happen, but please help us avoid them in the first place.”
Eric Rathburn, of Columbus, knows too well the importance of avoiding backyard fireworks displays. He was injured by a firework misfire during a pre-July 4th party in 2009. Like many victims of fireworks injuries, Rathburn was an innocent bystander. The firework flew through the crowd, hitting his glasses and knocking him backwards to the ground. The force broke his glasses, cutting his right eye and causing permanent damage.
“My glasses had flown off of me as I hit the ground. It felt like someone had punched me in the eye. After that I did not see anything,” said Rathburn. “I no longer watch any fireworks. I tell everyone I know that they should stay away from backyard fireworks and current Ohio laws are there to protect our safety.”
“Fireworks pose a threat to our pets, farm animals and wildlife. They trigger their fight-or-flight response,” said Kaye Persinger, Director of the Franklin County Animal Care & Control, Dog Shelter. “This often creates overflows at shelters and medical facilities and is a burden to animals, their humans and taxpayers.”
“For many of us, fireworks are a matter of quality of life,” said Nichole Coleman, U.S. Air Force Veteran from Findlay, Ohio. “The issue of fireworks and the unexpected noises and flashes that come with them are of real concern to me, personally, and many other veterans — particularly, the estimated 100,000 Ohio combat veterans — who have returned from military service with post-traumatic stress,” Coleman explained. “I rely on my service dog as a constant comfort by my side, and if my dog is startled or on edge because of fireworks, or God forbid if she runs off, that is unhealthy for me, too,” she continued.
Fireworks Safety Facts:
- In 2020, an estimated 15,600 people were treated in emergency departments for firework-related injuries.
- There were 18 non-occupational fireworks-related deaths in 2020.
- 10,300 of the injuries (66 percent) occurred during a one-month period around the Fourth of July Holiday.
- 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.
- Sparklers (900), firecrackers (1,600), and reloadable shells (400) accounted for the most injuries during the one-month period around the Fourth of July Holiday.
- The parts of the body most often injured were hands and fingers (an estimated 30 percent); legs (an estimated 13 percent); eyes (an estimated 16 percent or 2,496 eye injuries); head, face, and ears (an estimated 22 percent); trunk (an estimated 7 percent); and arms (an estimated 12 percent).
- Sparklers, often given to young children, burn at 1200 degrees or even hotter—hot enough to melt copper.
- 11 percent of injuries were to children under the age of five, with sparklers accounting for 36 percent of the estimated injuries for that age group.
- Children younger than 15 years of age accounted for approximately 24 percent of the total injuries. More than a third of the estimated emergency department-treated, fireworks-related injuries were to individuals younger than 20 years of age.
- Children 0 to 4 years of age had an estimated rate of emergency department-treated, fireworks-related injuries of 5.3 injuries per 100,000 people. Older teens, 15 to 19 years of age, had an estimated rate of 6.1 injuries per 100,000 people.
- Of the fireworks-related injuries sustained, 71 percent were to males, and 29 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 cause nearly half of fireworks injuries in children five years old and younger last year.
- 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
Prevent Blindness offers alternative ideas to celebrate the holiday safely:
- Decorate 4th of July treats using white frosting, blueberries and raspberries or strawberries.
- Make paper rockets by using paper towel rolls, paint or markers, streamers and child-safe glue. Make pinwheels or wind socks with an Independence Day theme.
- Create a patriotic wreath, pasting red, white and blue stars in a circle. Hang it from a door or window.
- Paint flowerpots in red, white and blue and plant new seeds or festive flowers.
- Decorate bicycles, scooters and wagons in red, white, and blue. Have a family parade.
- Hang decorative string lights and have a dance party with patriotic music.
- Design and decorate t-shirts and hats using glow in the dark paints. Add puffy paints and glitter to make them sparkle.
- After the sun goes down, wrap flashlights in colored cellophane to provide fun shades of light.
- Purchase non-toxic glow-sticks, ropes and jewelry that can safely light the night for kids.
- Organize a classic car, kiddie or pet parade on your block where viewing is done from a safe social distance in each household’s front yard.
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. In addition, ointments make the eye area slippery, which could slow the doctor’s examination at a time when every second counts.
Ohio Fireworks Safety Coalition (OFSC) Coalition of 50 statewide and regional organizations established in 1998 to educate the public about the dangers of consumer use of fireworks.
Ohio Department of Commerce
A list of frequently asked questions on fireworks is available in the pressroom at https://www.com.ohio.gov/documents/FireworksinOhio.pdf
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission Annual Report is available in full at:
Prevent Blindness Free Fireworks Safety Fact Sheets:
About Prevent Blindness, Ohio Affiliate
Founded in 1908, Prevent Blindness is the nation’s leading volunteer eye health and safety organization dedicated to fighting blindness and saving sight. The Ohio Affiliate of Prevent Blindness is Ohio’s leading volunteer nonprofit public health organization dedicated to prevent blindness and preserve sight. We serve all 88 Ohio counties, providing direct services to 1,000,000 Ohioans annually and educating millions of consumers about what they can do to protect and preserve their precious gift of sight. For more info or to contribute, call 800-301-2020. Or, visit us on the web at www.pbohio.org or facebook.com/pbohio and Twitter at https://twitter.com/#!/PB_Ohio.
About the Franklin County Dog Shelter & Adoption Center
Our mission is to balance the welfare and safety needs of the citizens and dogs in Franklin County. We are dedicated to providing responsible enforcement of dog laws in our community, compassionate treatment of the dogs in our shelter, and on-going education for our citizens. The Franklin County Dog Shelter & Adoption Center is committed to saving lives. Our shelter is the largest county shelter in Ohio. Last year the shelter took in 6,087 dogs and puppies, including all stray dogs in the county as well as owner surrenders and unwanted litters of puppies.
About The Center for Injury Research and Policy (CIRP)
of the Abigail Wexner Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital
CIRP works globally to reduce injury-related pediatric death and disabilities. With innovative research at its core, CIRP works to continually improve the scientific understanding of the epidemiology, biomechanics, prevention, acute treatment, and rehabilitation of injuries. CIRP serves as a pioneer by translating cutting edge injury research into education, policy, and advances in clinical care. For related injury prevention materials or to learn more about CIRP, visit www.injurycenter.org and follow @CIRPatNCH on Twitter.