A recent study by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) found that more than half of all serious injuries involving fireworks happen in the 30 days surrounding the July 4th holidays–which means that the danger of serious burns and injuries to children and other family members exists long after the red, white and blue are boxed up and put away.
The study found that most of the injuries happened when people used fireworks improperly or when fireworks lit up or exploded by surprise. Last year, the CPSC heard reports of four people dying because of the use of professional-grade or homemade fireworks. The agency also had reports of nearly 10,000 others with injuries caused by fireworks.
As CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum said, “For thousands of consumers, last year’s 4th of July celebration ended with a visit to the emergency room..
According to the CPSC research, the most common injuries are burns–with over half of all burns affecting the hands and head. The study found that almost 200 people go to the emergency room each day in the month surrounding the 4th of July because of firework injuries or accidents. Many of the most severe injuries are the result of people using illegal or homemade fireworks–which are often very powerful or behave in unpredictable ways. Illegal fireworks aren’t just a danger to the people and families who purchase or light them, since the resulting explosions or misfires can injure neighbors and neighborhood properties.
The CPSC recommends that people think carefully before deciding to purchase personal fireworks. For people who do choose to buy their own fireworks, the CPSC recommends always purchasing from a legally authorized dealer in your own state–regulations about fireworks can change from state to state. For people who choose to buy personal fireworks, safety advocates recommend following these steps to help keep everyone safe:
- Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them.
- Don’t allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks, including sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees. This is hot enough to melt some metals.
- Always have an adult closely supervise older children who are allowed to handle fireworks and sparklers.
- Avoid buying fireworks that are packaged in brown paper. This is often a sign fireworks were made for professional displays. They could be dangerous 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 close by, 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, and move back quickly.
- Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.
- After fireworks stop burning, put plenty of water from a bucket or hose on the device before throwing it away, in order to prevent a trash fire.