In 2012, six men died as a result of fireworks-related injuries and another 8,700 people were treated in hospital emergency rooms for fireworks-related wounds, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
CPSC officials released the latest fireworks safety report last week ahead of the Fourth of July holiday, which is traditionally when the majority of the injuries occur. According to the report, more than 5,000 Americans were treated in hospital emergency rooms due to fireworks-related injuries between June 22, 2012 and July 22, 2012.
More than half of the reported injuries involved burns to the hands, head, and face. Approximately 1,000 injuries involved sparklers and bottle rockets — fireworks that many people incorrectly assume are safe for young children to handle.
CPSC officials investigating the causes of fireworks-related injuries found that most of them were associated with malfunctioning fireworks or improper use. Malfunctioning fireworks often resulted in unexpected flight paths and dangerous debris. Improper use included igniting fireworks too close to someone, lighting fireworks in one’s hand, and playing with lit or used fireworks.
While most of the victims recovered from their injuries or were expected to recover completely, several people reported that their injuries might be long-term or permanent.
CPSC officials collaborate with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents to conduct surveillance of imported fireworks, most of which are manufactured in China. In 2012, U.S. officials found that about one-third of all the fireworks products it tested were found to be in violation of the Federal Hzardous Substance Act (FHSA) and seized at the port of entry.
Despite their efforts, however, sometimes highly dangerous and defective fireworks end up on stores shelves and in roadside stands. Even when the products are legal, they still pose an immense risk of injury.
The CPSC urges consumers who purchase fireworks to follow these safety tips:
* 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 often don’t realize that young children suffer injuries from sparklers, which burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees, which is hot enough to melt metal.
* If older children are allowed to handle fireworks, always have an adult closely supervise the activities.
* 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 devices with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding the device to prevent a trash fire.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Fireworks, and Explosives (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).