Who Gets Hurt Most From Fireworks?

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July 3 2014 2:38 PM

Who Gets Hurt Most From Fireworks?

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Watch those fingers!

Photo by Lakruwan Wanniarachchi/AFP/Getty Images

The Fourth of July is just around the corner, so here at Slate we figured we'd compile some prudent wisdom about one of the holiday's biggest dangers: fireworks. But according to Bloomberg Businessweek, fireworks are in fact only the fifth-most hazardous part of the weekend. You are statistically more likely to wind up in the emergency room from biking, swimming, using exercise equipment, or playing basketball. That said, more than 6,000 Americans still ended up in the ER from fireworks-related injuries during the week of July 1 to July 7 last year.

Is any one person more likely to be injured by fireworks than another? The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission keeps good data on the demographics and injury details of fireworks victims and it turns out that there are some trends. In each of the past five years, males were statistically more likely than females to sustain fireworks-related injuries. The majority of injuries also tend to be suffered by children and young adults under the age of 20 (and not surprisingly, hands and fingers are the parts of the body most often hurt).

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In 2013 specifically, the CPSC reported eight nonoccupational fireworks-related deaths from six incidents, none of which came out of your casual sparklers-in-the-parking-lot celebration. On the other hand, sparklers caused the single most estimated injuries of any type of fireworks device—some 30 percent of the total—in June and July of last year.

So while you probably won't die of fireworks this Fourth, you should still leave the displays to the professionals—and that goes for biking, swimming, shooting hoops, and using the elliptical, too. Maybe you should just sit quietly all weekend and drink craft beer, like the Founders intended.

Alison Griswold is a Slate staff writer covering business and economics.

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