CPSC Holds Fireworks Safety Press Conference on Mall in Washington

June 28, 2001
Release Number: 01179

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) held a press conference today on the National Mall to demonstrate the dangers of sparklers and some illegal fireworks, including M-80s and salutes. Improper use of fireworks or use of illegal fireworks can result in deaths, blindings, amputations and severe burns.

"Detonating these devices is best left to the professionals, because even fireworks that seem innocent can cause serious injury," said CPSC Chairman Ann Brown. "For example, sparklers, that are often used by young children, burn at temperatures of 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit."

"Fireworks can add fun and excitement to a holiday celebration, but they can also turn a backyard celebration into a rush to the emergency room," said Brown.

An
analysis (pdf) prepared by CPSC staff reveals that last year, hospital emergency rooms treated about 11,000 people for fireworks-related injuries, somewhat higher than in 1999, when there were 8,500 injuries. The increase was largely a result of increased fireworks activities for the millennium celebrations, both at the fourth of July and in January.

Prior to the millennium, injuries had decreased significantly from the highs of 1992-94, when injuries averaged 12,500 a year. From 1994 through 1999, there was a decrease in fireworks injuries by one third, to 8,500 in 1999.

As part of its fireworks enforcement program, CPSC prevents large numbers of hazardous fireworks from reaching consumers. Illegal mail order kits contain chemical mixtures that can explode unexpectedly and violently. M-80s, cherry bombs and quarter sticks are so highly explosive that they have been banned by Federal law since 1966. Working with the U.S. Customs Service since 1988, CPSC has seized or detained more than 400 million hazardous fireworks at docks across the country.

CPSC advises consumers to leave fireworks to the professionals. But if fireworks are legal where you live and you decide to set them off on your own, be sure to follow these important safety tips:

- Never allow children to play with or ignite fireworks.

- Read and follow all warnings and instructions.

- Be sure other people are out of range before lighting fireworks.

- Only light fireworks on a smooth, flat surface away from the house, dry leaves, and flammable materials.

- Never try to relight fireworks that have not fully functioned.

- Keep a bucket of water or a hose handy in case of a malfunction or fire.

 

movie iconConsumers can also view a video clip showing the destructive power of fireworks, and a second video clip showing illegal fireworks (transcript for both clips). These are in "streaming video" format.