New Study Stresses the Importance of Fireworks Safety
With the Fourth of July only a week away, stores and roadside stands across the county are stocking up and pushing the sale of all kinds of fireworks. While fireworks can be a fun way to celebrate Independence Day, a new study by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reveals that firework-related injuries surrounding the Fourth are a big problem.
The CPSC study found that 65 percent of all firework-related injuries in 2011 were sustained during the 30 days surrounding the Independence Day holiday. More than half of these injuries were the result of unexpected ignition of the device or consumers not using fireworks as intended.
The study found that firework injuries most often result in burns to the hands and head, including the eyes, face, and ears. According to the study, sparklers, firecrackers, and aerial devices are associated with the most incidents. The most severe injuries, however, occur when consumers get their hands on commercial fireworks that are meant to be used only by professionals.
While the majority of fireworks injury reports involve emergency room treatment and release, CPSC says that it is aware of far more severe and even fatal injuries associated with consumer use of professional-grade and homemade fireworks. In 2011, CPSC received reports of four consumers who were killed by either professional-grade or homemade firework devices, while an estimated 9,600 were injured.
In the four reported firework-related deaths, the victims were killed when the illegal devices exploded, causing them severe trauma to the head and face. One incident resulted in total decapitation. In other incidents involving professional-grade or homemade devices, the victims sustained severe burns and the permanent loss of fingers.
The bottom line, if you're going to use LEGAL fireworks of any kind at home, carefully read all package instructions and follow them at all times. The safest bet, however, is to simply leave it to the professionals.
For consumers who choose to purchase legal fireworks, CPSC urges the following safety precautions:
- Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before you buy or use them.
- Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks. 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 that they 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 it to prevent a trash fire.
NCCC wishes you and your family a very safe and happy Independence Day!