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Report: Fireworks Injuries Have Significantly Increased Since Legalization

Jingda Chen
A report by the University of Iowa found firework injuries have significantly increased since the legislature legalized the sale of fireworks in 2017.

A new report by the University of Iowa has found fireworks-related injuries have significantly increased since the state legalized fireworks in 2017.

Researchers used data and records from the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City and the Iowa Methodist Medical Center in Des Moines, the state’s two largest trauma centers.

They looked at the period between 2014 and 2019 — approximately two-and-a-half year periods before and after Iowa’s legalization of fireworks — and found fireworks injuries more than doubled following legalization.

Colette Galet, an associate research scientist with UIHC's trauma center, said the severity of injuries has increased too.

"Eighteen percent of the patients required an amputation post-legalization, and amputation...we know [is] associated with higher health care costs, can be associated with greater disability," she said.

Galet said no fireworks-related amputations were recorded prior to legalization.

Additionally, she said injuries have significantly increased for children and those under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Galet recommended Iowans consider attending one of the fireworks shows run by professions instead of lighting off their own. But she said if they choose to do so, they should be very careful.

"It's like the designated driver," she said. 'You know, if you're going to have fun, and you still want to use your fireworks, I would recommend that you have a designated handler that is an adult."

The Iowa legislature approved the sale of fireworks in 2017. Their sales are restricted to the periods of June 1 to July 8 and December 10 to January 3.

Natalie Krebs is IPR's Health Reporter
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