CPSC Urges Caution for Fourth of July Celebrations

The Consumer Product Safety Commission’s new Chairman, Inez Tenenbaum, urged families today to put safety first during the Fourth of July holiday and celebrate with caution when it comes to fireworks. The latest report (PDF) from CPSC indicates that there were reports of seven fireworks-related deaths and an estimated 7,000 hospital emergency room treated injuries in 2008. In 2007, CPSC had reports of eleven deaths and an estimated 9,800 injuries.

In a press event and fireworks demonstration on the National Mall, Tenenbaum reminded consumers that even with fewer reported deaths and injuries in 2008, the one-month period surrounding the Fourth of July is still the most dangerous time. In fact, 70 percent of all fireworks-related injuries occurred between June 20 and July 20.

"CPSC wants to keep reducing fireworks-related deaths and injuries in 2009," Tenenbaum said. "Children should never play with or light fireworks, and adults should watch our demonstrations to see how powerful and dangerous illegal fireworks can be."

Tenenbaum was joined on the National Mall by Tony West, assistant attorney general for the Civil Division of the Department of Justice; Dan Baldwin, assistant commissioner for the Office of Trade within Customers and Border Protection (CBP); and Joseph Riehl, acting assistant director of the Office of Enforcement Programs and Services for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

As a part of its fireworks enforcement program, CPSC actively works with ATF to investigate roadside stands, warehouses and retail stores that sell professional grade explosives to consumers, and homes that serve as havens for the manufacture of dangerous fireworks devices. These investigations have resulted in dozens of successful prosecutions by the Justice Department’s Office of Consumer Litigation and U.S. Attorney offices across the country.

CPSC encourages consumers who decide to purchase legal fireworks to:

  • 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 degrees--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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