For more information:

Prevent Blindness Ohio, Stacie Lehman: 614-464-2020 ext. 119

                                                                                                      Cell: 419-356-1401; [email protected]

                          Ohio Department of Commerce, Michael Duchesne: 614-752-7179

                                                            [email protected]

Child Injury Prevention Alliance, Dr. Gary Smith: 614-398-2472

[email protected]


Health and Safety Leaders Join to Educate Ohioans

About the Dangers of Backyard Fireworks


COLUMBUS, OH (June 27, 2013) – Prevent Blindness Ohio, Ohio Department of Commerce’s Division of State Fire Marshal, Child Injury Prevention Alliance, and the Ohio Eye Care Coalition joined forces at the State Fire Marshal’s Office today to educate Ohioans about the dangers of backyard fireworks.


Ohioans are being urged NOT to use backyard fireworks because of the high fire danger from extremely dry conditions, the risk of personal injury – specifically to young children – and the potential penalty for breaking Ohio’s fireworks law.


According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) Fireworks Annual Reportreleased yesterday, in 2012 8,700 people were treated in emergency departments for firework-related injuries. The CPSC indicates that this is not a statistically significant trend in estimated injuries from 1997 to 2012. An estimated 5,200 fireworks-related injuries, or 60 percent of people treated, occurred during the one-month period surrounding the Fourth of July Holiday.


“Prevent Blindness Ohio supports a total BAN on backyard fireworks, including sparklers, which are widely available at grocery and department stores,” said Sherry Williams, President & CEO of Prevent Blindness Ohio. “Last year, 600 serious injuries occurred due to the use of sparklers and for children under 5 years old they were responsible for nearly 25% of the injuries. A sparkler burns up to 2000 degrees Fahrenheit…hot enough to most metals!” added Williams.


Injuries to children under the age of 15 accounted for 30 percent of the estimated firework-related injuries.  Children and young adults under 20 years old had 46 percent of the estimated injuries. The parts of the body most often injured were hands and fingers (an estimated 41 percent); head, face, and ears (an estimated 19 percent); legs (an estimated 13 percent); and eyes (an estimated 12 percent).


A demonstration by State Fire Marshal Larry Flowers showed sparklers burn at between 1200 and 2000 degrees. “Putting that heat on a wire – which conducts heat – is a severe danger to put in the hands of small children,” said Marshal Flowers.


“Every legally available backyard firework has been associated with serious injury and death”, said Gary Smith, MD, DrPH, President of the Child Injury Prevention Alliance. "Although some people mistakenly


believe that backyard fireworks are safe if only adults handle them, our research shows that one-quarter of fireworks-related injuries to children occur to bystanders. These children were not using the fireworks themselves and yet they were still injured. This tells us that children are at risk of injury by simply being in the vicinity of backyard fireworks use," added Dr. Smith.


There are three types of fireworks in Ohio, all of which are hazardous: Trick and novelty items such as sparklers and snakes that can be legally sold and used by anyone; exhibitor fireworks which require a license to sell, purchase and use; and consumer class fireworks such as bottle rockets and roman candles, which require a license to sell. Consumer fireworks can be purchased by anyone over the age of 18, but must be removed from the state within a certain timeframe and cannot be legally discharged in Ohio.


This year, beyond the penalty for lighting fireworks in Ohio, you pose a greater danger to your community if you try a backyard fireworks show according to Marshal Flowers. “Low humidity, dry surface conditions and wind gusts have elevated the fire danger,” said Flowers. “Do not flick a lighter, light a match or set off a firework because you cannot be prepared for what will come next because of these extremely dry conditions.”


Fireworks Safety Facts:

  • In 2012, 8,700 people were treated in emergency departments for firework-related injuries.
  • There were four fireworks-related deaths.
  • 5,200 of the injuries (60 percent) occurred during a one-month period around the Fourth of July Holiday.
  • In 2012, fireworks sparked 228 fires in Ohio causing $130,000 in damages.
  • The size of the fireworks product is no indication of the amount of the explosive material inside it.
  • The major causes of injuries are due to delayed or early fireworks explosions, errant flight paths of rockets, debris from aerial fireworks, and mishandling of sparklers.


Based on the 5,200 injuries around the one-month period:

  • Firecrackers (1,200), sparklers (600), and bottle rockets (400) accounted for the most injuries last year.
  • The parts of the body most injured were hands and fingers (estimated 2,100 injuries), head, face, and ears (1,000 injuries), trunk (800 injuries), legs (700 injuries), eyes (600 injuries), and arms (100 injuries).
  • Sparklers, often given to young children, burn at 1200 degrees or even hotter—hot enough to melt copper.
  • For children under the age of 5 there were 500 injuries altogether, which firecrackers (30 percent) and sparklers (22 percent) accounted for more than half of the estimated injuries for that age group.
  • Sparklers caused 600 injuries altogether.
  • Children younger than 15 years of age accounted for approximately 30 percent of the estimated 2012 injuries. Forty-six percent of the estimated emergency department-treated, fireworks-related injuries were to individuals younger than 20 years of age.
  •  Of the fireworks-related injuries sustained, 74 percent were to males, and 26 percent were to females.


Prevent Blindness Ohio has these tips to help prevent fireworks-related injuries:

  • Do not purchase, use or store fireworks of any type.

  • Be aware that even sparklers are dangerous and caused 22% of fireworks injuries in children five years old and younger last year.

Prevent Blindness Ohio has these tips to help prevent fireworks-related injuries:

  • Protect yourself, your family and your friends by avoiding fireworks.

  • Attend only authorized public fireworks displays conducted by licensed operators, but be aware that even professional displays can be dangerous

  • Support policies that ban the importation, general sale and indiscriminate usage of fireworks by children and adults.


The Ohio Eye Care Coalition offers the following guidance in responding to eye injuries:

  • Do not delay medical attention, even for seemingly mild injuries. “Mild” injuries can worsen and end in vision loss or even blindness that might not have occurred had a doctor provided treatment early on.

  • Do not rub the eye nor attempt to rinse out the eye.

  • Avoid giving aspirin or ibuprofen to try to reduce the pain. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs thin the blood and might increase bleeding. Acetaminophen is the over-the-counter drug of choice.

  • Do not apply ointment or any medication. It is probably not sterile. Also, ointments make the eye area slippery, which could slow the doctor’s examination at a time when every second counts.


Ohio Eye Care Coalition (OECC)

A group of organizations that work together to provide a forum for discussion and action on vision care policies and programs geared to enhancing the eye health and safety status for all Ohioans. Members include Ohio Ophthalmological Society, Ohio Optometric Association, Opticians Association of Ohio and Prevent Blindness Ohio. Facilitation is provided by The Ohio Department of Health.


Ohio Department of Commerce

A list of frequently asked questions on fireworks is available in the press room at


The Child Injury Prevention Alliance works to prevent injuries, both intentional and unintentional, to children and adolescents in the U.S. and around the world. The organization achieves its goals through trans-disciplinary scientific research carried on in the public interest, by translating research findings into programs and policies, by providing leadership in injury prevention initiatives and advocacy, and by fostering national and global collaboration in injury research and prevention. Injury professionals and parents seeking information about child and adolescent injury prevention can visit, like us on Facebook (, follow us on Twitter (, or follow our boards on Pinterest (, or subscribe to us on YouTube ( Media requests can be directed to 614-398-2472.


Prevent Blindness Ohio

Prevent Blindness Ohio, founded in 1957, is Ohio’s leading volunteer nonprofit public health organization dedicated to prevent blindness and preserve sight. We serve all 88 Ohio counties, providing direct services to more than 800,000 Ohioans annually and educating millions of consumers about what they can do to protect and preserve their precious gift of sight. Prevent Blindness Ohio is an affiliate of Prevent Blindness America, the country’s second-oldest national voluntary health organization. For more information or to make a donation call 800-301-2020 or visit us on the web at


The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission Annual Report is available in full at:


Fireworks Fact Sheet:




To view the full press conference: