As people gather to celebrate the Fourth of July with hot dogs and hamburgers, parties with families and friends, and local celebrations, do not ruin the fun by ending up in the hospital.

Cook County Health’s Trauma & Burn Unit and Division of Plastic Surgery remind you to leave the fireworks to the professionals.

Dr. Stathis Poulakidas, Director of Trauma & Burn Services at CCH, says fireworks injuries can be devastating, and that even legal fireworks can be problematic.

“Sparklers, which people often give to kids, can burn up to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit,” he said. “Letting it burn too close to your hand or dropping it on your feet can result in serious injuries. Every year we see kids who have been injured while playing with a sparkler than an adult thought was okay to give them.”

More than half of fireworks injuries in the U.S. happen to people under age 20, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

This summer, Cook County Health has already cared for multiple people who have been seriously injured due to the personal use of fireworks, with injuries ranging from minor burns to full amputations resulting from injuries caused by large fireworks.

A new report by CPSC found there was a 50 percent increase in deaths and injuries from fireworks-related incidents in 2020, compared to 2019. About 15,600 people were treated in hospital emergency departments for fireworks injuries in 2020.

According to CPSC, 30 percent of burn injuries due to fireworks affected a patient’s hands and fingers. Twenty-two percent were to the head, face and ears.

“Fireworks can cause permanent injury and disfigurement to your eyes, hands and face,” said Dr. Mark Grevious, Chair of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at CCH. “Some individuals will end up with life-altering complications that leave them unable to perform basic functions, such as feeding, bathing, dressing, and using the bathroom by themselves.”

CCH encourages you to leave the fireworks to the professionals. If you choose to use fireworks personally, never do so while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

The Burn Prevention Network offers these tips to prevent injury:

  • Never allow your fireworks to land on someone else’s property.
  • Do not discharge fireworks within 150 feet of a structure.
  • Properly discard used fireworks or sparklers by placing them in a bucket of water.
  • Assume that if they did not go off, they are still live. Never attempt to relight them—instead douse them in water before picking them up.
  • Children or inebriated adults should never light or handle any fireworks, including sparklers.
  • Use protective gear, like safety gloves and eyewear, when handling fireworks.

Media Contact

Kate Hedlin
Communications Manager