Firework injuries: a ten-year study

J Plast Reconstr Aesthet Surg. 2009 Sep;62(9):1103-11. doi: 10.1016/j.bjps.2007.12.080. Epub 2008 Jul 7.


Fireworks are used worldwide to celebrate popular events (e.g. festivals, official celebrations, weddings). The festival of lights (Diwali) is celebrated with fireworks in India. During this period, many patients from all age groups present to hospital with injuries due to fireworks. Prevalence, period of occurrence, sex and age variation, adult supervision, causative fireworks, mode of lighting, age groups prone to injury, patterns of injury caused by individual fireworks, and the body parts injured were studied. One hundred and fifty-seven cases (92 retrospective, 65 prospective) with injury due to fireworks presenting to the Department of Plastic Surgery at KEM Hospital between 1997 and 2006 were studied. The prevalence of injuries has decreased steadily over the last 10 years (41 cases in 1997, 3 cases in 2006). The maximum number of injuries (35%) was seen in the age group 5-14 years; 92% of these children were unsupervised. The commonest cause of injury was firework misuse (41% of cases), followed by device failure (35%). Device failure was commonest with flares/fountains (ground firework emitting sparks upwards) and aerial devices. Flare/fountains caused most injury (39%), sparklers the least (0.6%). Flare/fountains, ground spinners, sparklers, and gunpowder (explosive material from cracker, obtained by tearing paper wrapper and obtaining chemicals) caused only soft tissue burns; stringbombs (high-intensity fire cracker made by wrapping chemicals with jute strings/coir in layers) and rockets (aerial device that zooms upwards and bursts) caused blast injuries, leading to soft tissue disruption and bony injuries. Emergency surgery was done if indicated: tendon and/or neurovascular repair, fracture fixation, flap cover or amputation. Superficial burns were treated with dressings. Certain wounds needed only thorough cleansing of the wound and primary suturing. We concluded that, over a 10-year period, the prevalence of firework injury decreased due to increased awareness in the community. Aggressive awareness campaigns by government and non-government organisations was the cause. We can minimise the number and severity of accidents by raising awareness regarding safety precautions, encouraging professional displays and motivating manufacturers to adhere to strict quality control.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Blast Injuries / epidemiology
  • Blast Injuries / prevention & control*
  • Burns / epidemiology
  • Burns / prevention & control*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Explosive Agents*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • India / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Young Adult


  • Explosive Agents