Family, fun, food and fireworks. It’s that time of year when many will be celebrating the Fourth of July holiday. All too often, however, celebrations can end with a trip to the hospital if fireworks are mishandled. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission wants to make sure consumers know the risks, so that they can prevent the tragedies. At a fireworks safety press conference and demonstration on the National Mall recently, CPSC announced that at least five fireworks-related deaths were reported in 2018 — all associated with reloadable aerial devices.
“CPSC works year-round to help prevent deaths and injuries from fireworks, by verifying fireworks meet safety regulations in our ports, marketplace and on the road,” said Ann Marie Buerkle, CPSC acting chairman in a news release. “Beyond CPSC’s efforts, we want to make sure everyone takes simple safety steps to celebrate safely with their family and friends.”
There were an estimated 9,100 fireworks-related, emergency department-treated injuries in 2018, with 62 percent of them occurring during the month surrounding the Fourth of July (June 22-July 22). During that period, firecrackers were the number one cause of injuries, accounting for 19 percent of the estimated injuries. For children under 5 years of age, sparklers accounted for more than half of the total estimated injuries, the CPSC news release said.
Since 2018 reporting is not yet complete, the five fireworks-related deaths should be considered a minimum. The victims range in age from 16 to 49. In one of the reported cases, an 18-year-old launched a mortar shell from a tube on the top of his head. The ignited shell did not launch and exploded. The victim died in the hospital the next day, the CPSC news release said.
CPSC staff has reports of 121 fireworks-related deaths between 2003 and 2018.
Tips to Celebrate Safely:
Dr. Sarah Combs, an emergency room doctor from Children’s National Medical Center said in the release: “Each year, too many emergency room doctors see too many fireworks-related injuries. Don’t make the emergency room part of your holiday; don’t let children play with fireworks.”
Remember, even if your consumer fireworks are legal, they still come with risk. If you light fireworks, keep safety in mind for you, your family and those around you.
Make sure consumer fireworks are legal in your area, before buying or using them. (View Fact Sheet).
- Never use or make professional-grade fireworks
- Do not buy or use fireworks that are packaged in brown paper; this is often a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays and are not for consumer use.
- Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks, including sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. This is hot enough to melt some metals.
- Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Move to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.
- Never point or throw fireworks at another person or occupied area.
- Light fireworks one at a time, then move away from them quickly.
- 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.
- After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding the device, to prevent a trash fire.
For more information, visit the fireworks safety education center and check for fireworks recalls at CPSC.gov.