WASHINGTON — The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) wants consumers to put safety in play if fireworks are part of your Fourth of July celebrations. Each year, there are upward of 10,000 emergency room visits for injuries resulting from fireworks related incidents. Most fireworks injuries occurred to consumers younger than 20 and resulted in the loss of a limb in many cases.
In a press event held on the National Mall, Chairman Inez Tenenbaum announced that during the 30 days surrounding last year's Independence Day holiday, there were nearly 6,000 reports of injuries involving fireworks. Burns and lacerations to the hands, the face and the head were the most frequently reported injuries. More than half of the injuries during this time period were related to firecrackers, bottle rockets, and sparklers.
"Consumers need to heed our warning: fireworks related incidents, especially those involving illegal fireworks, can be fatal," said CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum. "Only use legal fireworks and follow CPSC's tips to ensure your holiday remains festive and safe."
Chairman Tenenbaum was joined on The Mall by Chief Glenn Gaines, Acting Fire Administrator for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA); Daniel Baldwin, Assistant Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP); and Arthur Herbert, Assistant Director, Enforcement Programs and Services, for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). Also joining CPSC on the Mall was Jason Henderson. Mr. Henderson lost both hands and sight in his right eye during a fireworks-related incident.
CPSC is working closely with our federal partners to enforce fireworks regulations, protect our ports, prosecute manufacturers and distributors of illegal explosives, and educate the public about the risks associated with fireworks.
"Fireworks not only create significant dangers to citizens when used improperly or illegally but also increase the demands on fire departments and firefighters," said Acting U.S. Fire Administrator Glenn Gaines. "This nation has lost four firefighters as a result of the use of illegal fireworks. Calls to EMS and Fire departments increased as individuals continue to be injured and burned. Almost 9,000 people were injured last year as a result of civilian use of fireworks. With these increased demands the risks to firefighters and EMS personnel needlessly increase when fireworks play gets out of control."
The federal government is committed to stopping the manufacture and sale of illegal fireworks.
"ATF is committed to protecting the public by finding and stopping those who endanger our communities by illegally making and selling explosives devices," said ATF Assistant Director Arthur Herbert. "If you become aware of an illegal manufacturing operation, or see someone selling devices or fireworks illegally, report it immediately to your local law enforcement or to ATF at (888) 283-2662."
Consumers who decide to purchase legal fireworks are encouraged to take the following safety steps:
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of serious injury or death from thousands of types of consumer products under the agency's jurisdiction. The CPSC is committed to protecting consumers and families from products that pose a fire, electrical, chemical, or mechanical hazard.
The CPSC's work to ensure the safety of consumer products - such as toys, cribs, power tools, cigarette lighters, and household chemicals - contributed significantly to the decline in the rate of deaths and injuries associated with consumer products over the past 30 years.
The United States Fire Administration recommends everyone should have a comprehensive fire protection plan that includes smoke alarms, residential sprinklers, and practicing a home fire escape plan.
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Florida Forest Service wants to remind all Floridians to use fire and fireworks safely and responsibly while celebrating on this Fourth of July.
“Even though our wildfire risk is lower because of recent rainfall, people should always be careful when using fireworks,” said Jim Karels, State Forester. “The potential for wildfire is still present in some parts of the state.”
Individuals should always check with local laws before using fireworks. Local fire and police departments and the state Fire Marshal’s Office can also provide guidance. If you plan to use fireworks, please follow these safety tips:
· Follow all fireworks laws for your county or city.
· Light fireworks on a cleared area free of any vegetation.
· Remove any debris from roofs or decks where fireworks could land.
· Always have a water source available in case of a fire.
· Aim fireworks away from people, homes and wooded areas.
· Discard used fireworks in a bucket of water.
· Report any fires immediately to 911.
Since Jan. 1, 1,783 wildfires have burned more than 46,000 acres across Florida. The Florida Forest Service manages 1 million acres of public forest land while protecting more than 26 million acres of homes, forestland, and natural resources from the devastating effects of wildfire. For statewide wildfire updates and additional wildfire information, visit www.floridaforestservice.com. For more information about the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, visit www.FreshFromFlorida.com.