Fourth of July: Celebrate Safely

Guest Blog from READYColorado Community Preparedness Program Manager.

Have a wonderful July 4th celebration and stay safe- attend a professional fireworks display instead of using consumer fireworks!

As the Fourth of July approaches, we are thinking about celebrating the birth of our nation with barbeques, family gatherings, carnivals, hot dogs and ice cream. Our annual tradition for celebrating Independence Day has also included the use of fireworks. After all, who can resist the thrill of a fireworks display: the thunder followed by the explosion of color lighting up the skies in a kaleidoscope of color? Along with the beauty, however, comes the danger. If not used properly, fireworks can be dangerous especially when fire conditions are extreme. This is why we are urging citizens to attend professional public displays instead of using consumer (those designed for personal use) fireworks.

This year we are experiencing a very difficult wildfire season. Black Forest, Lime Gulch, and West Fork Complex, are a few of the recent devastating fires that have occurred demonstrating how destructive these fires can be can be given the extreme fire conditions we are facing in our state. Our wildland urban interface communities are particularly threatened by wildfires. Current conditions include a lack of moisture, distressed vegetation, overgrown & beetle killed forests and extreme fire weather (Red Flag warnings). These conditions need only an ignition source in order for a disaster to occur.

Even if you do not live in a wildland urban interface community, chances are your home includes landscaping. Trees, bushes, and scrubs that are close to your house can serve as fuel for an ignition source such as an errant firework. Once ignited, fire can be transferred to your home by the contiguous landscaping. Every year thousands of properties are damaged or destroyed and thousands of people are injured by consumer fireworks. This year, we are encouraging citizens to celebrate the Fourth of July by attending professional displays instead of using personal fireworks. The professional displays are carefully monitored and permitted by the appropriate authorities, and include the support of the local fire department. Professional displays provide a safe alternative for families to enjoy the excitement of the Fourth of July.

Here are some important facts about consumer (those designed for personal use) fireworks:

  • Only fireworks that do not leave the ground and do not explode are legal in Colorado.
  • Check local fire restrictions before using consumer fireworks (
  • Purchasing fireworks in another State and then transporting these fireworks across State lines is illegal in Colorado.
  • Each year the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) compiles a report reviewing fireworks related injuries. Here are some facts from the 2012 report which can be found at:
  • Fireworks were involved in an estimated 8,800 injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments during calendar year 2009 (95 percent confidence interval 6,800 – 10,800). CPSC staff estimated that there were 7,000 fireworks-related injuries during 2008.
  • An estimated 5,900 fireworks-related injuries (or 67 percent of the total fireworks-related injuries) were treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments during the one-month special study period between June 19, 2009 and July 19, 2009.
  • Of the fireworks-related injuries sustained, 73 percent were to males and 27 percent were to females.
  • Injuries to children were a major component of total fireworks-related injuries with children under 15 years old accounting for 39 percent of the estimated injuries. Children and young adults under 20 years old had 54 percent of the estimated injuries.
  • There were an estimated 1,200 injuries associated with firecrackers. Of these, 700 were associated with small firecrackers, 200 with illegal firecrackers, and 300 where the type of firecracker was not specified.
  • There were an estimated 1,000 injuries associated with sparklers and 300 with bottle rockets.
  • The parts of the body most often injured were hands and fingers (estimated 1,900 injuries), eyes (1,600 injuries), and head, face, and ears (900 injuries).
  • More than half of the injuries were burns. Burns were the most common injury to all parts of the body except the eyes, where contusions, lacerations, and foreign bodies in the eye occurred more frequently.
  • 98 % of the imported fireworks in the USA are imported from China

Fireworks Statistics

Additional facts about fire safety issues related to fireworks are provided by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) in their annual report which can be found at:

In 2011, an estimated 17,800 reported fires were started by fireworks. These fires resulted in an estimated 40 civilian injuries and $32 million in direct property damage, with no reported fire deaths.

During 2007-2011, 91% of the average of 19,700 fires associated with fireworks per year occurred outside any structure or vehicle. The largest numbers of these outdoor fires associated with fireworks involved grass fires (6,800 per year), brush fires (4,500), dumpster fires (1,700), unclassified or unknown-type natural or vegetation fires (1,300) and other outside trash, rubbish, or waste fires (1,200).

On Independence Day in a typical year, fireworks account for two out of five of all reported fires, more than any other cause of fire.

Sparklers burn at 1200 degrees F!

89% of the fireworks injuries treated in hospital emergency rooms involved fireworks that Federal regulations permit consumers to use.