Most firework-related injuries happen over July 4th, Feds say
By Jay Keller
As fireworks stands spring up along the roadsides and parking lots of America, officials throughout the U.S. are engaged in public-awareness campaigns about the dangers and legal pitfalls of private firework shows during Fourth-of-July celebrations.
In its annual report of injuries involving legal and illegal fireworks for calendar year 2012, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) said on Wednesday that 60 percent of all fireworks injuries occur during the 30 days surrounding the Independence Day holiday.
According to the CPSC, 8,700 consumers were treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments for fireworks-related injuries in 2012 with more than 5,000 receiving treatment between June 22 and July 22.
Fireworks were involved in 9,600 injuries during 2011 and 8,600 in 2010, according to CPSC data.
More than 50 percent of these reported injuries involved burns to the hands, head and face but the CPSC also received reports of six men who were killed by professional-grade, homemade or banned firework devices.
Most victims recovered, or were expected to recover, completely from their injuries but the agency did say that several victims reported possible long-term injuries.
“These figures represent more than numbers,” CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum said in Wednesday’s statement. “They represent the lives of real people who have been affected well beyond the Fourth of July.”
Sparklers and bottle rockets accounted for nearly 1,000 of the injuries reported to the CPSC.
Malfunctioning fireworks or improper caused most of the injuries, according to the data gathered in follow-up investigations.
Unexpected flight paths and dangerous debris from malfunctioning fireworks were the most common in this category.
Injuries from improper use occurred when fireworks were lit too close to someone, when fireworks were ignited by one person while another held the device or when “playing with lit or used fireworks.”
Federal agencies working with CPSC to enforce federal safety standards and raise awareness about the dangers of fireworks include resources from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Department of Transportation, the Justice Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Fireworks, and Explosives.
Tenenbaum praised the efforts of federal agencies in cracking down on illegal fireworks but also called on consumers to “do their part and celebrate safely.”