The 4th of July is just around the corner and fireworks have become a regular part of its celebration. The American Pyrotechnics Association reports that revenue from the sale of fireworks for 2008 was $940,000,000- the highest ever. That is a lot of fireworks. The association also reports that injuries from the use of fireworks have decreased from 38.3 injuries per 100,000 pounds of fireworks in 1976 to 3.7 injuries in 2008. Considering that 265.5 million pounds of fireworks were sold in 2008- that still equals 9,800 injuries. Some of those were deaths.
The National Council on Fireworks Safety recommends that you only buy consumer fireworks from a licensed store or stand. Consumer fireworks regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission are packaged in bright colors and have safety warnings on the packaging. The packaging sets forth the country of origin, which is normally China. Typical consumer fireworks include fountains, cones, sparklers, fire crackers, bottle rockets, roman candles, ground spinners and multi-shot products.
The National Council warns against buying fireworks from an individual’s house, or out of someone’s car. These fireworks are likely to be illegal explosives that can seriously injure you. You will often find these to be unpackaged and are wrapped with plain brown paper without any safety warnings, or place of manufacture. These may be hand made in illicit factories and other unsafe environments. They use such names as M80, Quarter Stick or Cherry Bomb. If someone approaches you to sell one of these illegal explosives, politely decline and then call your local police department.
The National Council has a new safety poster aimed at helping consumers
distinguish between legal consumer fireworks and illegal explosives. You should
look for these posters at participating consumer firework retailers.
Here are some safety tips:
• Only use fireworks outdoors.
• Obey all local laws regarding the use of fireworks.
• Never give fireworks to young children and always wear safety glasses.
• Always have a bucket of water, or water hose, nearby.
• Alcohol and fireworks do not mix!
“Many times consumers don’t prepare for the evening’s fireworks display” says
Ralph Apel, President of the National Council on Fireworks Safety. “The
designated shooter should prepare a shooting area, assess how many people will be
watching the display and lay out a spectator area that is far enough away from the
shooting site. The shooter should carefully read the label of each firework and
understand exactly what it will do. Preplanning makes for a safe and fun backyard
Another concern are sparklers which account for approximately 16% of consumer injuries from fireworks. The National Council on Fireworks Safety offers these safety steps for sparklers:
• Sparkles should ALWAYS be used under close adult supervision.
• Always remain standing while using sparklers.
• Never hold a child in your arms while using sparklers.
• Never hold, or light, more than one sparkler at a time.
• Sparklers and bare feet can be a painful combination. Always wear closed-toe
shoes when using sparklers.
• Sparkler wire and stick remain hot long after the flame has gone out. Be sure to
drop the spent sparklers directly in a bucket of water.
• Never hand a lighted sparkler to another person. Give them the unlit sparkler
and then light it.
• Always stand at least 6 feet from another person while using sparklers.
• Never throw sparklers.
• Show children how to hold sparklers away from their body and at arm’s length.
• Teach children not to wave sparklers, especially wooden stick sparklers, or run
while holding sparklers.
How old should a child be before it is allowed to use sparklers. Some writers say 12. I have also read where some say 5. Parents need to really think before giving a child sparklers.
For more details on firework safety you can visit this website www.fireworksafety.com
Civil litigation attorney Billy Cunningham practice concentrates on personal injury, wrongful death, nursing home abuse, business litigation, environmental law and insurance matters. He is licensed to practice in the state and federal courts of Alabama and Mississippi, as well as in the U.S. Court of Military Appeals, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and the Supreme Court of the United States.