Fewer firework injuries this New Year's, more kids hurt

A total of 434 people were treated for fireworks related injuries at the emergency rooms of Dutch hospitals over New Year's, a decrease of 8 percent compared to the year before. The number of victims under te age of 15 increased from 99 last year to 119 this year, according to a joint study by VeiligheidNL and broadcaster NOS.

The number of fireworks injuries over New Year's has been steadily decreasing for the past few years. Five years ago nearly 800 people were hurt by fireworks, and ten years ago over a thousand. This year one person was killed by an illegal firework, but it happened two days before New Year's. 

Like in previous years, eye injuries and burns are the most common injuries inflicted by fireworks. Children suffered more burns than the older victims, but fewer eye injuries. About half of the victims were under the age of 20. 

Just because the number of injuries decreased, does not automatically mean that the severity also decreased. The Dutch association of trauma surgeons NVT already announced that they had to perform emergency surgeries on more victims. 

Crackers were responsible for nearly half of the injuries. This proportion is extremely high, especially when taking into account that only 20 percent of fireworks consumers bought crackers this year. Compound fireworks, which only require the lighting of one wick for multiple rockets and fireballs, were more popular. Compound fireworks caused only 1 percent of this year's injuries. 

Last month the Dutch Safety Board called for a ban on crackers and rockets during New Year's, saying that these types of fireworks cause the most injuries. "If such a ban actually comes, we think that 40 percent of the injuries can be prevented", Birgitte Blatter of VeiligheidNL said to NOS. "But then everyone has to keep to the ban."

Doctors also treated a number of less serious firework injuries. VeligheidNL estimates that around 700 people went to the GP with a firework injury.