Cherry bombs, bottle rockets and Roman candles may be more powerful, but they don't cause the most emergency room visits around the July 4 holiday. New data show the largest number of injuries come from what are often thought of as a safer firework alternative.
YouTube is full of videos in which children as young as two or three years old having their first experience with sparklers, waving 2,000-degree burning wands as sparks illuminate their faces.
"It's like a lot of things. We grew up with them as children, and we want our children to have the same experience. But I don't think we had the data we have now," says Callie Thompson, a surgeon and burn specialist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. "
In the month surrounding July 4 last year, 1,200 people showed up to ERs around he country with injuries resulting from sparklers — representing 14 percent of all fireworks-related hospitalizations in 2017. Most people suffered from burns to the hand, but one child in Wisconsin even died when her father made a bomb out of a bundle of sparklers.
Many revelers have found safer ways to handle the burning rods, like poking them through an overturned cup to protect the hand. But Thompson says no method is safe enough for her children.
"We are a no firework family," she says. "We will go and watch the professional shows, and we enjoy them. But we don't use personal fireworks."