When most people think of fireworks, they think of the big fireworks their city shoots off for the 4th of July holiday. When they hear about fireworks malfunctioning and causing injuries, they are probably thinking of these kinds of fireworks as well. However, injuries from public display fireworks are extremely rare. But that doesn’t mean that fireworks injuries in general are rare.

There are many types of so-called “harmless” fireworks set off in the weeks leading up to and after the 4th of July, including sparklers, snakes, spinners, fountains, firecrackers, bottle rockets, roman candles, and so on. Most people don’t even consider these “real” fireworks. However, these types of fireworks cause thousands of injuries and numerous deaths every year.

Anyone who plans to set off or use fireworks of any kind should know that there is no such thing as a “harmless” firework, and that proper precautions should always be taken before igniting a firework.


Sparklers are often wrongly considered a kid-friendly firework. However, sparklers alone were responsible for roughly 14% of all fireworks-related injuries in 2019, making them among the most dangerous type of firework.

Sparklers burn at temperatures up to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, hot enough to melt metal and glass, and can very easily ignite clothing and hair. According to Ann Marie Buerkle, former acting chairwoman of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), “Sparklers are often viewed as harmless but let’s be clear, they can be deadly if not used properly.” Sparklers have resulted in at least one death in the U.S., a four-year old girl in 2017.

Most sparkler injuries happen to children under the age of five. Young children should never play with sparklers, and older children should only handle sparklers with adult supervision and always with a nearby bucket of water to douse them.


In 2019, there were at least 800 injuries reported in the month surrounding July 4th attributed to firecrackers, compared to 900 injuries associated with sparklers.

Firecrackers are often set off in strings, meaning multiple back-to-back explosions, and go off very quickly. This means that sometimes people do not have enough time to get a safe distance from the firecrackers before they go off. Other times, people may assume a firecracker is a dud when the reaction is delayed, and pick it back up again to attempt to relight it only to have it go off in their hand.

Firecrackers are essentially just gunpowder wrapped in paper with a fuse. They should never be held when lit or being lit. When firecrackers go off while still held, people often suffer severe burns and are at risk of having their fingers blown off.


Bottle rockets, roman candles, and mortar-and-shell fireworks together make up the vast majority of fireworks injuries to adults, totaling over 1,000 known injuries in 2019. Ariel fireworks may shoot off in directions the user isn’t expecting, and often result in injuries to the face and eyes. They can also cause fires if they land in trees or on roofs.

Ariel fireworks can cause severe injuries when lit while being held rather being than placed on the ground. Never hold a lit ariel firework, and never point one at another person.

Who Is Liable for Fireworks Injuries?

Misusing fireworks, such as igniting fireworks too close to people or flammable objects such as trees or other fireworks, accounts for a majority of firework injuries (52%). If you were injured by someone else mishandling a firework, such as pointing a firework toward you, you may be eligible to file a personal injury lawsuit.

Defective and malfunctioning fireworks also cause many injuries every year. According to the CPSC, 39% of all fireworks injuries are caused by firework malfunction.

Common examples of firework malfunctions include:

  • Early or delayed ignition
  • Tipping over
  • Erratic flight path
  • Throwing debris or ash
  • Exploding

When fireworks are defective, or safety instructions are not labeled clearly or correctly, the manufacturer can often be held liable for injuries.

If You’ve Suffered a Personal Injury, Call Joye Law Firm Today

Even fireworks marketed specifically for children, such as poppers and spinners, cause many burns every year.

More dangerous fireworks cause severe burns, lacerations, facial injuries, and hand injuries. More than a third of people who suffer hand injuries from fireworks require at least a partial amputation.

It’s clear that fireworks cause serious injuries. If you were injured by a firework because it was defective, or because someone else was mishandling it, you may be able to get compensation for your pain and suffering and medical costs.

Contact our firm for a free case consultation.

About the Author

Mark Joye is the Head of the Litigation Department at the Joye Law Firm. A Board-Certified Trial Advocate with nearly 30 years of litigation experience, he currently serves on the Board of Governors for the American Association for Justice and is a past president of the South Carolina Association for Justice. In a recent trial, Joye headed a trial team that secured $17 million for a family killed in a tractor-trailer accident.

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