Fireworks - How to Have a Safe Fourth (cont.)

What kinds of injuries occur?

  • Among the different types of fireworks, sparklers were associated with the greatest number of estimated injuries at 1,100. There were 1,000 injuries associated with firecrackers and 900 associated with rockets.

  • The parts of the body most often injured were hands, eyes, and legs.

  • More than half of the injuries were burns. Burns were the most common injury to all parts of the body except the eyes and head area, where contusions, lacerations, and foreign bodies in the eye occurred more frequently.

  • Fireworks also can also cause life-threatening residential fires

How and why do these injuries occur?

Availability: In spite of federal regulations and varying state prohibitions, "class C" and "class B" fireworks are often accessible by the public. It is not uncommon to find fireworks distributors near state borders, where residents of states with strict fireworks regulations can take advantage of more lenient state laws.

Fireworks type: Among class 1.4G (class C) fireworks, which are sold legally in some states, bottle rockets can fly into the face and cause eye injuries; sparklers can ignite clothing (sparklers burn at more than 2,000°F, 1093.3°C); and firecrackers can injure the hands or face if they explode at close range.

Being too close: Injuries may result from being too close to fireworks when they explode; for example, when someone bends over to look more closely at a firework that has been ignited, or when a misguided bottle rocket hits a person nearby.

Unsupervised use: Children are more likely to be injured by fireworks if they are unsupervised.

Lack of physical coordination: Younger children often lack the physical coordination to handle fireworks safely.

Curiosity: Children are often excited and curious around fireworks, which can increase their chances of being injured (for example, when they re-examine a firecracker dud that initially fails to ignite). 

Experimentation: Homemade fireworks (for example, ones made of the powder from several firecrackers) can lead to dangerous explosions).

Here are some general fireworks safety tips to remember from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission:

  • Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.

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

  • Avoid buying fireworks that come in brown paper packaging, as this can often be a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays and could pose a danger to consumers.

  • Adults should always supervise fireworks activities. Parents often don't realize that there are many injuries from sparklers to children under five. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000°F (1093.3°C) - hot enough to melt some metals.

  • Never have any portion of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Move back a safe distance immediately after lighting.

  • Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not fully functioned.

  • 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 one item at a time, then move back quickly.

  • Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.

  • After fireworks fully complete their functioning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding to prevent a trash fire.

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