Everybody knows fireworks are dangerous but every year, thousands of injured consumers wind up in hospital emergency rooms with injuries that range from minor to fatal.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports that 9,600 people were injured and at least four were killed by fireworks last year.
More than half of these injuries were the result of unexpected ignition of the device or consumers not using fireworks as intended. Fireworks injuries most often resulted in burns to the hands and head, including the eyes, face, and ears. Sparklers, firecrackers, and aerial devices were associated with the most incidents.
In the fatal incidents, a 31-year-old male died of substantial head and chest trauma caused by an illegal aerial firework device, a 47-year-old male perished when an illegal 3-inch display firework device exploded in his face, a 41-year-old male was decapitated by an illegal firework device and a 51-year-old male died of severe head and face injuries caused by a homemade firework device, the CPSC said.
"For thousands of consumers, last year's 4th of July celebration ended with a visit to the emergency room," said CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum. "CPSC wants you to understand the risks with legal and illegal fireworks, in order to prevent an injury, or worse, during this holiday."
Reports of faster-than-expected explosions and unpredictable flight paths of aerial devices have resulted in tragic consequences for some consumers.
Consumers who decide to purchase legal fireworks are urged to take these safety steps:
- Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using 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.