12. tbl. 108. árg. 2022

Emergency Department visits due to firework accidents in the Reykjavik capital area from 2010 to 2022

Flugeldaslys á höfuðborgarsvæðinu 2010-2022. Frá bráðamóttöku Landspítala

Björn Vilhelm Ólafsson1

Hjalti Már Björnsson1,2

1Faculty of Medicine, University of Iceland, 2Department of Emergency Medicine, Landspitali – The National University Hospital of Iceland.

Correspondence: Hjalti Már Björnsson, hjaltimb@landspitali.is

Key words: fireworks, firework accidents, explosive injury, burns, sparkles, ocular injury.

BACKGROUND: Public use of fireworks is widespread in Iceland, and unfortunately associated with injuries. No prior comprehensive research has been done on firework accidents in Iceland. The goal of this study was to gather information about the extent, cause, and impact of firework accidents in the Reykjavik capital area.

METHODS: Text search was conducted in medical records to find visits to the Emergency Department (ED) resulting from fireworks accidents over the period December 2010 to January 2022. Medical records were reviewed for details of events and injury.

RESULTS: Over the period 248 patients came to the ED after a firework related injury, 73% male. The age range was from 9 months to 79 years of age. Children were 114, 12 were younger than 6 years. There where overall 54 secondary accidents. In total 96 (39%) accidents were traced to a faulty firework. Rockets caused the most accidents 56 (23%), cakes 43 (17%) and handheld candles 32 (13%). Type of firework was not reported in 62 (25%) cases. 157 sustained a burn injury, of which 104 where on hands. Eye injury was found on 67 patients and 97 individuals had open wounds. 22 where admitted to the hospital for a total of 91 days. Nobody died but at least 13 sustained permanent physical impairment due to fireworks.

CONCLUSIONS: Over the past decade, 21 patients on average presented to the ED annually with firework injury. 73% of those injured by fireworks are male. Children make up one half of the injured and one child 5 years of age or younger sustains a firework injury every year on average. Preventive measures against firework accidents should be expanded and more restrictive regulations on their use should be considered.


Table I. Demographic factors by firework type.

Table II. Type of injury categorised by body part.

Table III. Injury categorised by firework type.

Fig 1. Total number of firework accidents by year. Total number of visits to the emergency department at Landsspítali by year after firework accident (blue columns), visits outside of legal window for firework use (red columns).

Fig 2. The date and time of fire work injuries. Number of visits to the emergency department shown by: A) month. B) days around new year’s. C) hours on new year’s eve.

Fig 3. Degree of burns by body part. Degree of burn shown by body part, total burns shown on the left.


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