Washington D.C.- The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), a component of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, strongly urges all residents to practice extra caution and safety during the upcoming Fourth of July activities across America. Thousands of serious fireworks-related incidents typically injure eyes, heads and hands each year. Sparklers, firecrackers, and bottle rockets are leading contributors to these injuries. Younger children should not be allowed to play with fireworks.
“Fireworks account for a large number of preventable fires and injuries,” said USFA Acting Administrator Glenn Gaines. “Firefighters everywhere know too well the Fourth of July is a dangerous time for unnecessary fires and serious burns and injuries.”
If fireworks are legal where you live and you decide to set them off on your own, be sure to follow these important safety tips:
Observe local laws.
Keep a bucket of water handy in case of a malfunction or fire.
Read and follow all warnings and instructions.
Never allow children to play with or ignite fireworks. Many consider sparklers to be ideal "safe" fireworks for the young, but they burn at very high temperatures and can easily ignite clothing.
Children cannot understand the danger involved and cannot act appropriately in case of emergency.
Be sure other people are out of range before lighting fireworks. Never shoot fireworks at or near another person.
Only light fireworks on a smooth, flat surface away from the house, dry leaves, and flammable materials.
Never try to relight fireworks that have not fully functioned. Douse and soak them with water and throw them away.
Never ignite fireworks in a container, especially a glass or metal container.
Keep unused fireworks away from firing areas.
Never have any portion of your body directly over fireworks while lighting.
Don’t experiment with homemade fireworks.
Chief Gaines continued, “Parents and caregivers play a critical role in keeping children safe during this national holiday observance. Fireworks should be used with extreme caution. Older children should be closely supervised and carefully instructed in the safe handling of legal fireworks. Sparklers and firecrackers may seem relatively safe, but even those types of fireworks are especially harmful to children. And younger children should not be allowed to play with fireworks at all.”
The staff of the Consumer Product Safety Commission has estimated fireworks-related injuries from CPSC’s National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS). Highlights of the report are as follows:
CPSC staff has reports of 7 fireworks-related deaths during 2008. Two people were killed in incidents involving aerial and display fireworks. One person died in a fire where fireworks were the ignition source. Three people were killed in incidents involving homemade fireworks. One person, on oxygen, suffered serious burns when a firecracker exploded near his face. He died 18 days later in the hospital. CPSC staff has reports of 11 fireworks-related deaths in 2007.
Fireworks were involved in an estimated 7,000 injuries treated in U. S. hospital emergency departments during calendar year 2008 (95 percent confidence interval 5,200 – 9,000). CPSC staff estimated that there were 9,800 fireworks-related injuries during 2007.
An estimated 5,000 fireworks-related injuries (or 70 percent of the total fireworks-related injuries) were treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments during the one-month special study period between June 20, 2008 and July 20, 2008 (95 percent confidence interval 3,400 – 6,500). CPSC staff estimated that there were 6,300 fireworks-related injuries (66 percent of the annual total) during the 2007 special study period.
Injuries to children were a major component of total fireworks-related injuries with children under 15 accounting for 40 percent of the estimated injuries. Children and young adults under 20 had 58 percent of the estimated injuries.
There were an estimated 900 injuries associated with firecrackers. Of these, 500 were associated with small firecrackers, 100 with illegal firecrackers, and 300 where the type of firecracker was not specified.
There were an estimated 800 injuries associated with sparklers and 300 with bottle rockets.
The parts of the body most often injured were hands and fingers (estimated 1,400 injuries), eyes (1,000 injuries), and legs (900 injuries).