Fireworks-Related Injuries, Deaths Increased Last Year, CPSC Reports

As individuals throughout the United States prepare to celebrate the Fourth of July this week, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports that the number of firework injuries and deaths increased last year, and is urging consumers to celebrate safely.

According to the CPSC annual fireworks safety report, 2013 saw an increase in the number of deaths and injuries linked to the use of fireworks. The CPSC issues the annual fireworks safety report each year before the Fourth of July.

Last year, at least eight people died from fireworks-related incidents and an estimated 11,400 people were injured while using fireworks, up from less than 9,000 in 2012. Most injuries involved the malfunction of a fireworks device or its improper use.

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The CPSC said 65% of the injuries, more than 7,400 people, occurred within the 30 days directly surrounding the Independence Day holiday. Historically, consumers tend to use fireworks more during the days just before and after the holiday.

The agency reviewed fireworks incident reports from hospital emergency rooms, death certificate information, newspaper clippings and other sources to estimate the injuries and gather more information about the scenarios surrounding the deaths.

Most of the injuries resulted from a user playing with lit fireworks or igniting fireworks while holding the fireworks device.

The CPSC also revealed that consumers reported fireworks injuries after a device malfunctioned or did not operate as expected. The injuries also included incidents involving fireworks which had an errant flight path, devices that tipped over, and blowouts.

Toddlers Most often Injured

Last year, more children under the age of five were injured than any other age group. Reports indicate this may be because consumers often feel comfortable allowing young children to use fireworks which may be perceived as less powerful, such as sparklers and bottle rockets.

In truth, sparklers burn at a temperature of 2,000 degrees, a temperature hot enough to melt some metals. Sparklers and bottle rockets accounted for more than 40% of all injuries included in the report.

The agency also warns against using banned or professional fireworks or devices that are home-manufactured. Each of the eight fireworks deaths which occurred last year involved a banned, professional or home-manufactured device.

The CPSC and U.S. Customs and Border Protection sampled and tested some imported fireworks in 2013. Of the devices tested, 33 percent were noncompliant with federal regulations.

Most of the fireworks in violation were found to have an overloaded report composition or failed to meet fuse burn-time.

Officials warn consumers to only buy fireworks which are legally sold, never allow children to play with or ignite fireworks, including sparklers, and to refrain from buying fireworks packaged in brown paper. This is a sign the fireworks made be manufactured for professional use and may pose a heightened danger.

In 2010, the U.S. CSPC reported two people were killed, another 9,000 were injured that year as a result of accidents involving firecrackers used during Fourth of July celebrations.

Last year, nearly 40 people were injured during a fireworks accident gone awry at a public Fourth of July celebration at a California park. Investigators determined the accident was caused after pyrotechnics malfunctioned during the show. The incident sent fireworks careening from a tipped wooden launching station careening into the crowd of onlookers.


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