Fireworks safety tips for pyro tyros

Consumer Reports News: June 29, 2010 03:47 PM

Last time we told folks that most fireworks mishaps occur around the Fourth of July, one reader responded, "In other news, the sky is blue." It may be glaringly obvious, but we'd still like to remind revelers that 200 fireworks injuries occur each day in the month surrounding the holiday. And last year fireworks gone awry caused two deaths and resulted in 9,000 emergency room visits, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

To highlight its prevention program, the CPSC was joined on the Washington Mall today by fire officials, first responders and a man who had lost both hands and the sight in one eye in a fireworks accident. The agency also made its first fireworks recall of the year of 4,700 Super Lightning Rockets (see image) overloaded with pyrotechnic ingredients.

"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."

The National Fire Protection Association takes a harder line on fireworks and believes that fireworks displays should be left to the professionals and that consumers should not be handling them at all. Still, because fireworks are legal in some states, it's smart to follow the CPSC's safety tips. In fact, it's so smart, it's rocket science.
  • Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.
  • Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them.
  • Avoid buying fireworks that come in brown paper packaging, as this can often be a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays and could pose a danger to consumers.
  • Adults should always supervise fireworks activities. Parents often don't realize that there are many injuries from sparklers to children under five. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees—hot enough to melt some metals.
  • Never have any portion of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Move back a safe distance immediately after lighting.
  • Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not fully functioned. 
  • Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
  • Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.
  • Light one item at a time, then move back quickly.
  • Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.
  • After fireworks fully complete their functioning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding to prevent a trash fire.
—Maggie Shader

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