Fireworks are explosive devices used around the world to enhance holiday festivities and mark religious occasions. They are widely associated with entertainment and aesthetics. However, fireworks have disadvantages as well -- each year, they injure thousands of people and cause millions of dollars in property damage.
Fireworks are a staple of celebrations around the world. They enhance festivities and create lasting memories. In America, they are heavily used to celebrate New Year's Eve (Dec. 31) and Independence Day (July 4). In China, they are used during the Spring Festival (Chinese New Year). Australia and Canada use fireworks as well, lighting them off to celebrate their national days on Jan. 26 and July 1, respectively.
Fireworks are used to honor the Hindu holiday of Diwali. The five-day festival of lights is known for elaborate candle displays and firework spectacles. The fourth day is considered the most important day of Diwali because it is the beginning of the lunar month of Karttika, which marks the beginning of the new year in the Vikrama calendar. On this day, religious ceremonies are held and fireworks are lit in celebration.
In 2010, emergency rooms across the United States treated approximately 8,600 people for injuries related to fireworks. Of these injuries, more than half were burns. More than 70 percent of the 8,600 people injured suffered their accidents between June 18 and July 18. The body parts most often injured in these accidents were hands and fingers (30 percent), legs (22 percent) and eyes (21 percent). Two of every five people injured by fireworks in 2010 were under the age of 15. The U.S. Fire Administration attributed proximity, curiosity and experimentation as the reasons most of the accidents occurred.
Simple hand-held sparkler fireworks burn at temperatures in excess of 2,000 degrees F. During summer months, these spark-producing fireworks pose a great threat to dry and flammable areas. In 2008, $42 million of direct property damage was caused by 22,500 firework-induced fires in the United States. Fireworks burning at high temperatures can also ignite clothing or cause severe skin burns. In 2008, seven people died from firework-related injuries.