As many cities and organizations across the U.S. continue to cancel Independence Day fireworks celebrations due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, officials are emphasizing annual warnings this year about the risks associated with personal use of fireworks at home by non-trained professionals.
In a fireworks safety advisory issued on June 25, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) indicates that individuals who decide to use fireworks at home for the 4th of July holiday should know the risks associated with handling the products, and how to avoid problems that result in thousands of serious injuries and deaths each year.
For months, most citizens throughout the U.S. have been subject to “stay-at-home” orders and recommendations against gathering in large crowds due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. As new cases begin to spike again as states have begun to “reopen”, it is expected that most Americans will be celebrating the Independence Day holiday from home this year, which is likely to increase the use of firework by untrained individuals.
Officials warn that those purchasing fireworks to recreate the tradition at home should be aware of the dangers they pose if safety is not prioritized. Failure to follow the proper safety procedures can result in accidents and life-long or deadly injuries.
In 2019, the CPSC estimates there were at least 10,000 firework related injuries, and 12 fireworks-related deaths, with 73% occurring during the month surrounding the Fourth of July, between June 21 and July 21.
According to last year’s injury data, sparklers were the most common firework involved in reported injuries, resulting in an estimated 900 reports. Males under the age of 20 accounted for more than half of all injuries reported for both 2019 and 2018 data.
The CPSC strongly warns parents to never allow children to handle fireworks, as past injury data indicates half of all sparkler injuries involved children under the age of five years old.
Of the 12 firework-related fatalities reported in 2019, several of the incidents involved handheld fireworks. One of the incidents reported in 2019 involved a 21-year old male who was critically injured when lighting mortar-type fireworks on the rooftop of an apartment complex. After the firework was ignited the 21 year old held the firework over his head and it exploded. The man died several days later after suffering critical injuries in the hospital.
The agency is advising those who plan to partake in personal firework activities this year to follow a series of simple guidelines to prevent injuries and fatalities. The recommendations include the following;
- Never allow young children to play with, or ignite, fireworks, including sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit—hot enough to melt some metals.
- Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy, in case of fire or other mishap.
- Light fireworks one at a time, then move away quickly.
- Never try to relight or handle malfunctioning fireworks. Soak them with water and throw them away.
- Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Move to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.
- Never point or throw fireworks (including sparklers) at anyone.
- After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding the device to prevent a trash fire.
- Make sure fireworks are legal in your area, and only purchase fireworks that are labeled for consumer (not professional) use.
As part of this year’s fireworks safety initiative, the CPSC has announced they are working with Adam Savage, the former “Mythbusters” cohost and producer of the Discovery Channel who is a science communicator, special effects instructor and explosives expert to provide a virtual fireworks safety initiative.
For more fireworks safety tips visit www.cpsc.gov/fireworks.