The American traditions of parades, cookouts, and fireworks help us celebrate the summer season, especially our nation's birthday on the Fourth of July. However, fireworks can turn a joyful celebration into a painful memory when children and adults are injured. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that in 2002 - the latest year for which national fireworksrelated fire statistics are available - about 8,800 people were treated in emergency rooms for firework-related injuries. Burns accounted for over half of those injuries, and most involved the hands, eyes, and head. Sixty percent of those injured were age 19 or younger with children ages 5-9 facing the highest risk.
Fireworks not only can cause injuries but also increase the chance of a home fire. In 2002 fire departments responded to an estimated 3,000 structure and vehicle fires started by fireworks.
Fireworks are classified as hazardous substances under the Federal Hazardous Substances Act, and should be used only with extreme caution. Adults should closely supervise older children, and should never allow younger children to play with fireworks. In addition, before using fireworks, make sure they are permitted in your state or local area. Currently six states ban all consumer fireworks: Arizona, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island.
To help keep summer fun and safe, follow these tips:
- Do not allow young children to play with fireworks under any circumstances. Sparklers,considered by many the ideal "safe" firework for the young, burn at very high temperatures and can easily ignite clothing.
- Older children should only be permitted to use fireworks under close adult supervision. Do not allow any running or horseplay.
- Light fireworks outdoors in a clear area away from houses, dry leaves or grass and flammable materials.
- Keep a bucket of water nearby for emergencies and for pouring on fireworks that don't go off.
- Do not try to relight or handle malfunctioning fireworks. Douse and soak them with water and throw them away.
- Be sure other people are out of range before lighting fireworks.
- Never ignite fireworks in a container, especially a glass or metal one.
- Keep unused fireworks away from firing areas.
- Store fireworks in a dry, cool place. Check instructions for special storage directions.
- Observe local laws.
- Never have any portion of your body directly over a firework while lighting.
- Don't experiment with homemade fireworks.
- Have a fire extinguisher within reach.
For more information on this topic, see www.cpsc.gov.