Fireworks Spark Injuries Around July 4th; CPSC Advises Caution By Tod Aronovitz | 07/01/13 | 0 Comment

Just in time for upcoming July 4th celebrations, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has released its annual report tabulating deaths and injuries in 2012 involving legal and illegal fireworks.

The CPSC found 60 percent of all fireworks injuries occur during the 30 days surrounding the July 4th holiday. In 2012, an estimated 8,700 consumers were treated in emergency rooms for fireworks-related injuries, with more than 5,000 being treated between June 22 and July 22, 2012. More than half of those reported injuries involved burns to the hands, head and face, according to the data. The CPSC also received reports that six men were killed last year by professional-grade, homemade or banned firework devices.

The agency’s analysis found about 1,000 of the reported injuries involved sparklers and bottle rockets, fireworks that are frequently used by young children. Follow-up investigations showed that most injuries were associated with malfunctioning fireworks, resulting in unexpected flight paths and dangerous debris, or improper use, including igniting fireworks in one’s hand or too close to someone else, and playing with lit or used fireworks.

The agency is reminding people that fireworks are explosives and can have a life-altering impact, including death, on users and spectators. While it was reported that most victims recover from their injuries completely, some are more serious, like severe eye injuries and loss of limbs.

Putting safety first is imperative, according to the CPSC, and it recommends these steps before lighting up:

  • Make sure the fireworks you buy are legal in your area.
  • Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks, including sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees and young children can suffer burns and injuries.
  • Always have an adult supervise fireworks if older children are allowed to handle the 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 re-light 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.

The CPSC works closely with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP); the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF); the Department of Transportation; and the Department of Justice to enforce federal safety standards and raise awareness about the dangers of fireworks.

Working with CBP, CPSC collected and tested shipments of imported fireworks in 2012 to check for compliance with the Federal Hazardous Substance Act (FHSA). About 30 percent of the tested products were found to be in violation of the law and were immediately stopped at U.S. ports. In addition, the ATF encourages the public to report the manufacture or sale of illegal fireworks to your local law enforcement agencies or to the ATF hotline at 1-888-ATF-BOMB (1-888-283-2662).

“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.”

To report a dangerous product or a product-related injury go online to www.SaferProducts.gov or call CPSC’s Hotline at (800) 638-2772 or teletypewriter at (301) 595-7054 for the hearing impaired. Consumers can obtain news release and recall information at www.cpsc.gov, on Twitter @OnSafety or by subscribing to CPSC’s free e-mail newsletters.

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