As the July Fourth weekend approaches, Sachs Media Group’s Breakthrough Research Division wanted to look on the brighter side of our independence-declaring holiday — and by that, we mean fireworks, of course! Specifically, we consulted the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) to look at the volume of recorded injuries involving fireworks since 1997.
We were illuminated to learn from Jim Rosica of FloridaPolitics.com that Floridians purchasing fireworks promise to use them “solely and exclusively in frightening birds from agricultural works and fish hatcheries” with few exceptions.
According to injury data, however, birds shouldn’t be the only ones frightened.
The NEISS uses a sample of hospitals across the US to estimate nationwide totals for ER visits involving an injury associated with consumer products.
Based on these data, a whopping 179,730 Americans have visited the ER for fireworks-related injuries since 1997.
And get this: a shocking two-thirds of these visits occur on or just after one day of the year: July Fourth. Comparatively, Independence Day sees nearly seven times as many fireworks-related injuries as New Year’s Eve each year.
So what happens to cause these injuries? Well, based on the data, we can infer that most injuries involve lighting mistakes. Over 20 percent of all hospital visits due to fireworks include an injury to the hand, and another 12 percent involve an injury of the fingers.
The head also sees as a fair amount of action with 20 percent of all fireworks-related ER visits relating to the eyes, 12 percent to the face area, 3 percent to the ear, and 2 percent to the head.
Less than 1 percent of reported injuries involve the “pubic region,” though this stat may not be of much comfort to the estimated 319 men who experience such an injury each year.
The age distribution of these injuries is a lot younger than this title would imply: two-thirds of fireworks injuries occur in those under the legal drinking age of 21, with a peak age of 13. While it is unclear whether the victim was the firework-setter or an innocent bystander, men make up about 72 percent of all ER visits for fireworks injuries. This trend generally holds across all age and demographic groups.
Take these data as a precautionary tale for your July Fourth weekend festivities: don’t pick up a lit firework, stay away from Roman candles, and please, if you find yourself saying to your friend “hold my beer,” you shouldn’t start the fire.
Andrew Bryant is a sophomore at Florida State University majoring in economics and statistics, and is a research intern with Sachs Media Group.