Fireworks Safety Tips

Safety agency warns about sparkler, fireworks safety this Fourth of July

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is reminding people ahead of the Fourth of July to celebrate safely.

The agency said in a Wednesday news release that there were eight fireworks-related deaths reported in 2017. Victims ranged in age from 4 to 57, according to the agency’s 2017 fireworks report

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“In CPSC’s new fireworks report, five of the eight deaths were related to reloadable aerial devices; one was associated with devices manufactured at home, one involved a firecracker, and one was related to sparklers. Seven victims died from direct impacts of fireworks, and one victim died in a house fire caused by misusing a firecracker,” the CPSC news release said.

According to the report, 70 percent of those injured from fireworks were male and 30 percent were female. Half of emergency department-treated, fireworks-related injuries were to people under the age of 20. Hands and fingers were the most-frequently injured parts of the body in such incidents at 31 percent, followed by 22 percent to the head, face and ears, 17 percent to legs, 14 percent to eyes and 6 percent to arms.

The CPSC has issued safety tips for consumers using fireworks on the Fourth of July. (Photo by Michael Smith/Getty Images)
Photo: Michael Smith/Getty Images

During a CPSC-hosted demonstration for firework safety, Bowling Green, Kentucky, pilot Michael Spencer shared his story of injury. He was injured by a shell-and-mortar-style fireworks device and lost fingers on both hands. He’s had more than 11 surgeries since then.

“Fireworks can be extremely dangerous, even if they are legal,” Spencer said. “My advice would be to leave them to the professionals.” 

The CPSC advises the following fireworks safety tips for consumers :

  • Make sure consumer fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them. 
  • 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.

“CPSC works year round to help prevent deaths and injuries from fireworks,” CPSC acting chairman Ann Marie Buerkle said in a statement. “Beyond CPSC’s efforts, we want to make sure everyone takes simple safety steps to celebrate safely with their family and friends. We work with the fireworks industry, monitor incoming fireworks shipments at the ports and enforce federal fireworks safety regulations so that all Americans have a safe Fourth of July.”

More information on fireworks safety is at CPSC.gov. Fireworks recalls can be checked at the CPSC recalls page.

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