Fireworks injuries more than doubled in Iowa in the four years since a 2017 law legalized their sale and use by consumers, with far more children getting hurt and more patients requiring amputation, according to state data and a new study. Emergency room visits stemming from fireworks-related injuries rose to an annual average of 147 from 2017 through 2020, according to Iowa Department of Public Health data obtained Thursday. That’s a 114% increase from the state average of 69 over the previous four years.
A new study found that the state’s two largest trauma centers have seen notable increases since bottle rockets, roman candles and other consumer explosives became legal. Patients are now younger and more seriously injured, and are usually the handlers of the fireworks rather than bystanders, the study found.
The most significant change was an increase in amputations, mostly fingers. No amputations had been recorded since 2014, but 18% of patients with fireworks injuries at the two hospitals required amputations from 2017 through 2019, the study said. Children have been disproportionately affected. Nearly one in every three patients treated at the two hospitals since 2017 was under the age of 18, up from one in five before legalization. Statewide, the injury rate for children between the ages of 5 and 14 rose 140% in the first three years of legalization. Injuries to the hands and burns are the most common, followed by injuries to the eyes and face. Not surprisingly, injuries are concentrated around the July 4 holiday weekend.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimated in a report this week that 2020 saw a 50% increase nationally in fireworks injuries, with emergency room visits rising to more than 15,000.
Please be safe this holiday weekend. Leave fireworks to the professionals.