By Rita R. Robison, Consumer Specialist
With its jaunty, patriotic music, the fireworks safety video begins, it seems, with a somewhat humorous note. Fireworks blow the hands off dummies, obliterate a senior citizen manikin, and burn up the dummies of two girls wearing sunglasses.
Then a real young man speaks at the podium about the dangers of fireworks. He has two prostatic hands because he lost his hands in a fireworks accident.
In 2010, about 8,600 consumers were treated in hospital emergency rooms due to injuries from legal and illegal fireworks.
About 1,900 of these injuries were caused by sparklers, bottle rockets, and small firecrackers, reports the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
The commission’s annual death and injury report on fireworks also indicates that about 40 percent of estimated injuries occurred to children younger than 15 years of age. In addition, the commission received reports of three fatalities related to fireworks.
"From purchase to ignition, know how you and your family can stay safe and which fireworks are allowed in your state if fireworks are part of your July 4th celebration," Inez Tenenbaum, commission chair, said in a statement. "Never assume that a fireworks device is safe based on its size and never allow young children to play with or light fireworks. By knowing the dangers of all types of fireworks, consumers can prevent tragedies."
Tenenbaum said that during the 30 days surrounding last year’s Independence Day holiday, about 6,300 injuries involving fireworks were reported. Burns and lacerations to the hands, face, and head were the most often reported injuries. About 40 percent of the injuries that occurred during this time period were related to firecrackers, bottle rockets, and sparklers.
Consumers who decide to purchase legal fireworks are urged to take these safety steps:
- Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.
- 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.
- Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities. Parents don’t realize that young children suffer injuries from sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees – hot enough to melt some metals.
- 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.
- Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully.
- Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
- Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.
- 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.
- Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them.
Have a fun and safe Fourth of July celebration.