Firework related injuries increase during the Fourth of July holiday

Wednesday, July 3, 2013 - 12:00pm

The Fourth of July holiday accounts for 60 percent of annual firework injuries, according to a new study. At the end of June, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) released its 2012 report of deaths and injuries involving legal and illegal fireworks.

The CPSC's investigation found that during a one-month span surrounding the Independence holiday, more than 5,000 people were injured due to fireworks. In total, 8,700 people were injured last year.

During a 30 day span, from June 22 through July 22, more than half of the injuries reported burned hands, head and/or face. Nearly 1,000 people were hurt from sparklers and bottle rockets. Other injuries came from malfunctioning or improper use of fireworks such as igniting fireworks too close to someone, unexpected flight paths, and lighting fireworks in one’s hand and playing with lit or used fireworks. Follow-up investigations found that most of the victims recovered from their injuries, but several people reported their injuries might be long term.

“These figures represent more than numbers; they represent the lives of real people who have been affected well beyond the Fourth of July,” said CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum. “The federal government is working hard to keep the public safe by monitoring the ports, the marketplace, and the transportation of fireworks. Now, we need consumers to do their part and celebrate safely.”

Last year, the government collected and tested shipments of imported fireworks for compliance with the Federal Hazardous Substance Act (FHSA). They found that about 30 percent of the products were found to be in violation of the law and were immediately stopped at the U.S. port.

“Fireworks are explosives. Protecting the public means making sure that our safety regulations work when these explosives are being transported,” said PHMSA Administrator Cynthia Quarterman.

Here are a few, safety tips to keep in mind:

•Make sure the fireworks you want to buy are legal in your area before buying or using them.
•Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks, including sparklers. Parents may not realize that young children suffer injuries from sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees ─ hot enough to melt some metals.
•Always have an adult closely supervise fireworks activities if older children are allowed to handle devices.
•Avoid buying fireworks that are packaged in brown paper because this is often a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays and could pose a danger to consumers.
•Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.
•Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.
•Never try to relight or handle malfunctioning fireworks. Soak them with water and throw them away.
•Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
•Light fireworks one at a time, then move back quickly.
•Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.
•After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding the device to prevent a trash fire.
If you want to report the manufacture or sale of illegal fireworks to your local law enforcement agencies, call the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives hotline at 1-888-ATF-BOMB (1-888-283-2662).

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