CPSC Issues Yearly Fireworks Warning As July 4th Holiday Nears

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) just issued a press release about sparklers, bottle rockets, and small firecrackers. The fireworks may appear harmless due to their size; however, emerging data released by the CPSC indicates that, last year, during the 30 days surrounding July 4, these fireworks sent about 1,900 <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/practice_areas/accidents">injured consumers who needed emergency room treatment.

CPSC’s statistics show that, in 2010, about 8,600 consumers ended up in hospital emergency rooms due to injuries involving legal and illegal fireworks. CPSC’s annual death and injury report on fireworks also indicates that approximately 40 percent of estimated injuries involved children younger than 15 years of age; the agency noted that it 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,” said CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum. “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.”

The CPSC just hosted its annual fireworks safety press conference—on the National Mall—highlighting, through live demonstrations, the dangers linked with legal and illegal fireworks. Chairman Tenenbaum announced that, during the 30 days surrounding last year’s Independence Day holiday, there were about 6,300 reports of injuries involving fireworks. Burns and lacerations to the hands, face, and head were the most frequently reported injuries. About 40 percent of these injuries were related to firecrackers, bottle rockets, and sparklers.

The CPSC established permanent staffing at the Import Safety Commercial Targeting and Analysis Center (CTAC) in Washington, D.C., and the agency is working in cooperation with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to implement new enforcement measures. In 2010, CPSC staff began implementing new procedures for identifying and selecting fireworks at the ports for examination and sampling. With assistance from CBP, staff from the CPSC sampled and tested many shipments of fireworks to determine if they complied with the Federal Hazardous Substance Act (FHSA). Of the shipments targeted by CPSC staff, about 43 percent contained noncompliant fireworks.

Early this month, CPSC staff sent a letter to the industry regarding “adult snapper” devices, recently offered for sale. The letter provides the staff’s clarification of labeling and pyrotechnic composition limits for these devices. The letter advised that the staff considers adult snappers, although fuseless, to be the equivalent of more powerful firecrackers.

The CPSC and the General Administration for Quality Supervision and Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) of the Government of the People’s Republic of China have targeted fireworks among four product areas for exchange of information on standards, greater inspection of high-risk products, and tighter quality controls on components from parts suppliers.

After ensuring fireworks are legal in your area, the CPSC urges consumers who decide to purchase legal fireworks to take these safety steps:

• Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks; never place any body part 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 and never point or throw fireworks at another person; and never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.

• Avoid buying fireworks packaged in brown paper; this is often a sign the fireworks were made for professional displays and could pose consumer dangers.

• Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities. Parents do not always realize that young children suffer injuries from sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees, hot enough to melt some metals.

• Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap and to douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose after fireworks complete their burning and before discarding to prevent fire.

• Light fireworks one at a time, then move back quickly.

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