Fireworks injuries are increasing year after year, the CPSC warns.
“Fireworks-related injuries are rising in the U.S.,” according to a new report from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). The report was released just before Independence Day weekend as a cautionary warning to the public to adhere to fireworks safety measures during the holiday.
The commission noted that “fireworks-related injuries have seen a significant upward trend over the past 15 years, increasing by 25% since 2006.” In fact, last year alone, there were roughly 11,500 fireworks-related injuries that landed people in the emergency rooms, and 74 percent of those injuries happened in the month between June 18 and July 18. That’s a lot of injuries in just a single-month’s span.
“It’s imperative that consumers know the risks involved in using fireworks so that injuries and tragedies can be prevented,” said commission Chair Alex Hoehn-Saric.
The CPSC analyzed the most common area of the body that were injured during that time, which included the fingers, hands, head, face, and ears. While some of these injuries can be treated and successfully eradicated, many have led to life-changing impairment. And as much as a third of the ER visits (32%) were related to burns. Other injuries included severe cuts, bruising and fractures. In 2,600 of the injuries reported, about half came from fireworks (1,500) while the other half (1,100) came from sparklers. Sparklers are held in hand when lit, so burn injuries are especially common.
“Emergency departments treated 1,500 injuries related to firecrackers and 1,100 injuries involving sparklers,” the report specifically found. It also noted about “31% of randomly tested fireworks contained faulty parts, such as “fuse violations, prohibited chemicals, and pyrotechnic materials overload.”
Some of the safety precautions the agency recommends are:
– Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using fireworks.
– Never try to make your own fireworks.
– Make sure there is plenty of open space around you when setting off fireworks.
– Never point or throw fireworks at people.
– Keep a bucket of water or a hose handy in case of emergencies.
– Never try to relight a “dud” firework.
– Always dispose of fireworks properly after use.
The agency also advised, “Never point or throw fireworks (including sparklers) at anyone,” and “never use fireworks while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.”
One of the biggest reasons fireworks displays take a turn in the wrong direction is that those launching them are under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs in celebration of the holiday. This can be particularly dangerous as inhibitions are lowered and it’s less likely that safety measures will be followed.
“The CPSC will work closely with other federal agencies to prevent the sale of illegal consumer fireworks,” Hoehn-Saric said.
This Fourth of July, many people are looking forward to celebrating with fireworks, whether that means watching them launched from a public place or lighting them in their own backyards. While fireworks have long been an integral part of the holiday and something fun that many gatherings will be centered around, it’s imperative that the tips outlined by the CPSC are followed to ensure everyone has a safe holiday.