Safety Comparisons Between Sports and Fireworks
June 19, 2006
According to an article in the Washington Post, published on June 19, 2006,
basketball results in more injuries than any other sport. While football and
soccer may have more physical contact, basketball results in more injuries that
require a trip to the emergency room.
Based on data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, Pietro Tonino,
an orthopedist at the Loyola University School of Medicine, found that basketball, bicycling, football and soccer were the big four in sports-related injuries. In
2005 there were more than 500,000 basketball injuries, 485,000 bicycling injuries,
418,000 football injuries and almost 175,000 injuries from soccer.
Tonino found that the least hazardous were golf (47,000 ER visits), roller-
skating (35,000), wrestling (34,000), tennis (19,000) and track and field
(17,000). Skateboarding (112,000 emergency visits), trampolines (108,000) and
horseback riding (73,000) were relatively hazardous, given the smaller number of
Because Tonino focused on ER visits, he did not take into account the thousands
of chronically sore knees, elbows and ankles that can afflict athletes long
after they leave the field.
The most recent CPSC statistics for fireworks injuries are from 2004, which
had 9,600 reported injuries. Approximately sixty percent of these injuries
we due to children stepping on hot sparkler wires. "These injuries can easily
be prevented by dousing hot sparkler wires in a bottle or pail of water before
being discarded", said Dr. John Steinberg. Dr. Steinberg added, "fireworks
actually have a better safety rating than most sports and outdoor activities".
These statistics are even more remarkable in the light that fireworks usage
has been increasing steadily in the United States over the past 15 years.
When injury rates are compared to the number of tons of fireworks being
imported into the United States each year, the incidence rate per ton has
been falling. Dr. Steinberg speculated that the decline in injury rates is
most likely due to better quality control, combined with better safety information
and formalized fireworks training programs.