For many Americans, July Fourth is a day to lounge by the pool, barbeque and watch fireworks. But before you celebrate with a bang this year, make sure you’re prepared. Our analysts found that the number of fireworks-related injuries and deaths increased by more than 50% in the last year.

Firework Damage and Injuries by the Numbers

  • Fireworks-related injuries increased by 56% in 2020
  • Fireworks-related deaths increased by 50% in 2020
  • Firework injuries decreased by 13% among children but increased by 20% among women and 73% among young adults.
  • Nearly 66% of all fireworks-related injuries happened between June 21, 2020, and July 21, 2020.
  • Firecrackers were the leading cause of emergency room visits.

There were 15,600 fireworks-related injuries in 2020. That’s a 56% increase from 2019 and the highest number of injuries since 2005. Certain age ranges and demographics, however, saw even more dramatic changes. For example, although fireworks-related injuries decreased among young children, they increased by more than 70% among teenagers and young adults.

Our analysts also found significant changes in the type of firework involved in each injury. Injuries involving homemade fireworks increased by 200%, while firecrackers replaced sparklers as the leading cause of fireworks-related injuries.

Fireworks-related injuries 2019-2020
Demographic # of injuries in 2019 # of injuries in 2020 % change from 2019 to 2020
Total injuries 10,000 15,600 56%
0-4 1,100 1,100 0%
5-14 1,600 1,400 -13%
15-24 1,500 2,600 73%
25-44 2,500 3,600 44%
45-64 500 1,600 220%
Demographic # of injuries in 2019 # of injuries in 2020 % change from 2019 to 2020
Men 4,800 7,300 52%
Women 2,500 3,000 20%
Type # of injuries in 2019 # of injuries in 2020 % change from 2019 to 2020
Firecrackers 800 1,600 100%
Rockets 500 600 20%
Roman candles 400 600 50%
Sparklers 900 900 0%
Homemade 100 300 200%

What’s behind the increase in firework-related injuries and deaths? Nearly 80% of fireworks shows were canceled in 2020. We believe that with shows canceled, more Americans celebrated at home, leading to a drastic increase in the number of people hurt by fireworks.

Are you covered for fireworks damage?

While most people know fireworks can be unsafe, many assume homeowners insurance will cover any damage they cause. Although this usually is true—homeowners insurance policies cover most fires—there are exceptions.

Whether your policy covers damage tied to fireworks depends on your state laws. It also depends on your specific circumstances. The best way to find out if you’re in the clear? Check your policy or contact your agent.

State laws

Besides talking to an agent, check your local and state laws before attempting to file a claim. After all, these three states ban consumer fireworks on July Fourth and beyond:

According to the APA, the following states allow only wire or wood stick sparklers and similar novelty items:

Federal guidelines for the other 43 states as well as Washington D.C. allow varying levels of consumer fireworks. Depending on where you live, you may need a permit to handle certain ones on July Fourth or on any other day.

Consult the Directory of State Laws for more detailed information.

Injuries caused by fireworks

Your homeowners policy also steps in when your fireworks injure someone else. Specifically, the liability portion of it usually will pay that person’s medical bills as well as legal expenses. 

Keep in mind the information above isn’t always true. For example, if you use fireworks illegally and they damage property or hurt someone, your insurer won’t help.

Also, if an injury isn’t accidental your insurer probably won’t pay your claim.

Damages to your house

If you light a firework on July Forth and it accidentally starts a fire in your house, your homeowners policy should cover you. But if you intentionally cause a fire by setting off a firecracker, don’t look for insurance to come to your aid. This also holds true if you’re using fireworks illegally.

And if a neighbor’s fireworks start a fire in your house? Your insurer likely will sue them for the loss.

Should you discover your standard homeowners policy doesn’t protect against fireworks damage, ask if an umbrella insurance policy protects against it. This may be your best bet to get coverage.

On a related note, families.com says insurance companies often look at the following when a customer files a claim for this kind of damage:

  • Type of fireworks used
  • Experience and age of those using the fireworks
  • Weather conditions
  • Physical surroundings of where the fireworks were used
  • Pyrotechnic safety precautions in place

Safety tips

Although pretty to look at, firecrackers and the like can cause serious injuries. So, if you’re going to celebrate this July Fourth with firecrackers or other explosives, consider taking the following precautions before the festivities begin:

  • Always have adult supervision when handling fireworks
  • Never use them while intoxicated
  • Don’t let children play with fireworks, including sparklers
  • It should go without saying, but don’t throw or aim them at other people
  • Have a hose, bucket of water, or fire extinguisher nearby
  • Always wear safety glasses when lighting fireworks
  • Keep all spectators at a reasonable and safe distance
  • Keep dogs and other pets away from them too
  • Follow and read the directions carefully
  • Allow used fireworks to stand for at least 20 minutes
  • Later, cover them in water, then drain and put them in plastic bag before throwing them away
  • Do the same with any “duds” that don’t go off after a few minutes
  • Also, don’t try to relight these duds
  • Never shoot fireworks from a metal or glass container
  • Only use them outdoors on a flat, fireproof, hard surface that’s free from flammable material
  • Don’t put any body part near a firework