Fireworks - Use, Sales and Injuries

Week 17 Data and Historical Background

Posted by David Velleca on June 24, 2018

Historical Background

Over the last month or so, tents have been popping up around town. That could only mean one of two things - either the circus is in town, or it's fireworks season. Finally, this weekend, the walls came down, and inside the tents, you can see box upon box of brightly colored novelties that exist to be blown up for our fascination. For the next two weeks or so, the evening will be punctuated with the sound of mortars, bottle rockets and firecrackers.

Fireworks as we know them originate in China, tracing their roots all the way back to some time between the seventh and tenth centuries, when bamboo shoots (that had been used as primitive pyrotechnics since the second century BCE) were filled with mixtures of gunpowder, metal shavings and other chemicals. So, by the time fireworks made their debut as part of our Independence Day celebrations, they had been around for quite some time. Let's focus on the history of fireworks in America, though.

The first Fourth of July celebration occurred on July 4, 1777, while the infant United States was still engaged in the Revolutionary War with the British. On the evening of the fourth in Philadelphia, a fireworks display capped off a day of celebration that had included a parade, musical celebrations, the decoration of ships in the harbor in red, white & blue and the firing of cannons - one shot for each state in the Union. Over time, the celebrations would become more refined, with fireworks nearly completely replacing the cannon shots. Regardless, the foundation for the traditional celebration of Independence Day was set.

Fireworks are indelibly linked with the Fourth, but their magnificence and grandeur have made their use more mainstream. From concerts, to Walt Disney World, to the Super Bowl, to baseball stadiums in celebration of a home run, fireworks have become a major industry in the United States. This week, we're looking at annualized numbers for the sale, consumption and injuries from fireworks. This should be a fun, very simple dataset to visualize, and I think some of the data insights might be a bit surprising.

Going forward, we're moving the release of our weekly dataset to Monday. With this dataset and some extra time, what kind of explosive insights can you find? Take some time, and post your viz to Tableau Public, and Twitter with the hashtag #ThrowbackThursday, tagging @TThrowbackThurs.

Data Source

The dataset this week was sourced from The American Pyrotechnics Association. Please be sure to cite the source on your viz.