Original articles

Can fireworks-related injuries to children during festivities be prevented?

M N Smittenberg, D Lungelow, H Rode, A B van As, A J W Millar


Objective. To determine the epidemiological features and outcome of fireworks-related injuries among children 0 - 13 years old.

Design. A retrospective study from the trauma registry of a children’s hospital from 2001 - 2009.

Results. Fifty-five children were treated for injuries from fireworks. The mean age was 8.8 years, 78% were boys, and the largest age group was 5 - 9 years old. Firecrackers accounted for 95% of the injuries; the most commonly injured body sites were hands (44%), eyes (42%) and face (31%); 47% of the patients had more than one injury. The most common injury type was burns (67%); 25 children were admitted, mostly to the burns and ophthalmology units. The mean length of hospital stay was 3.5 days. Surgical intervention was required in 38% of the patients. Most of the fireworks accidents occurred in or around the patients’ homes. There were more fireworks-related injuries around Guy Fawkes Day (85%) than New Year’s Eve (9%).

Conclusion. Consumer fireworks cause serious but preventable injuries to children, either as users or bystanders. Children and their families should be encouraged to enjoy pyrotechnical displays conducted by professionals at designated areas. All fireworks for individual private use should either be supervised by an adult or banned. Current legislation should be more strictly enforced, especially the sale to under-age children.

Authors' affiliations

M N Smittenberg,

D Lungelow,

H Rode, Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital, University of Cape Town

A B van As,

A J W Millar,

Full Text

PDF (71KB)


Firework injuries; Children; Festivities; Celebrations

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2010;100(8):525-528.

Article History

Date submitted: 2009-12-08
Date published: 2010-07-26

Article Views

Abstract views: 4948
Full text views: 1998

Comments on this article

*Read our policy for posting comments here