Kansas City,
13:52 PM

Protecting kids from firework-related injuries

Little girl watching fireworks

Fireworks seem to be all around us at Fourth of July celebrations, but the bright and colorful displays pose a danger to children.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, an average of 280 people present to Emergency Departments daily in the days surrounding the holiday.

Between June 30th and July 2nd - five kids were treated for fireworks injuries in the Children's Mercy Adele Hall Emergency Department. They were seen for burns to the hands, arms, eyes, head and neck caused by sparklers, punks and firecrackers. The CPSC says sparklers, which may seem harmless, can burn at 2,000 °F.

Dr. Christine Cheng is the Chief of Hand Surgery in the Children's Mercy department of Orthopedic Surgery. She has seen many injuries occur when kids are playing with fireworks, without their parents' knowledge.

"Often it isn't lack of supervision but rather lack of knowledge that a child has a firework in the first place. Kids can receive fireworks from friends, cousins, older siblings and the parents don't know until it is too late."

Firework safety tips with kids in mind:

  • Do not permit children to handle fireworks.
  • Check to make sure children don't have fireworks given to them by friends or other kids.
  • Do not use or make homemade fireworks.
  • Do not open fireworks.
  • Do not misuse fireworks.
  • Supervise all use of fireworks.
  • Only use fireworks outdoors.
  • Have a designated single shooter for firework ignition. Read all labels/warnings/instructions.
  • Never hold a firework that is not meant to be held.
  • Light only one firework at a time.
  • Never relight a firework that does not go off. Wait 20 minutes before handling it and place it in bucket of water.
  • Have a bucket of water and hose ready to put out any fires.
  • Used fireworks should be soaked in water, placed in a nonflammable trash can away from any flammable objects.


About one-third of all fireworks-related injuries are to the hands and fingers. About 20% of all injuries are to the head and face, and eye injuries account for about 10% of all fireworks-related injuries. The eye injuries are usually due to the use of bottle rockets and other projectile fireworks.

Dr. Denise Dowd is an emergency physician at Children's Mercy. She says age and gender are a real predictor of the likelihood of injury.

"Boys within the age range of 7 or 8 years to 15 or 16 years make up most of those injured by fireworks. They are more likely to take risks, and boys are always much more prone to injuries when compared with girls. When kids of that age get a hold of things like fireworks, they are not using mature judgement. This is why we advise against children using fireworks."

Dowd also has this advice on when a child injured by a firework should see a doctor.

"If they have any kind of burn that affects 1-percent or more of their body’s surface - about the size of the palm of the hand - they absolutely need to be seen in an ED. They also need to be seen if they have a burn or injury to their face, their feet or anything around the joints. A lot of these injuries are fairly serious. We can handle them very well in the ED, and we often discharge kids home, but the best thing to do is completely avoid injury by not using fireworks."


Read more of Dr. Dowd's interview on firework-related injuries via Healio.

Learn more about the Department of Surgery at Children's Mercy.

Learn more about our two Children's Mercy Emergency Departments.