Tuesday, June 30, 2009, National Mall, Washington, D.C.
Good morning and welcome to a new day for the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the start of our renewed commitment to protecting the safety of families and children.
I am Inez Tenenbaum, the new Chairman of the Commission and I am so pleased to be joined today by our federal law enforcement and homeland security partners. The public should know that the federal government is truly working together to keep illegal fireworks out of the country, to catch those who bring them in, and to make sure consumer fireworks meet U.S. safety rules.
The Fourth of July is one of my favorite holidays and its symbolism is demonstrated every year with fireworks here on the National Mall and in communities across the country.
This year, CPSC is pleased to report that there has been a decline in fireworks-related deaths and injuries. Our new report (PDF), released today, shows that there were 11 reported fatalities in 2007 and 7 in 2008. There were nearly 10,000 injuries in 2007 and an estimated 7,000 in 2008.
This is good news, but we want the numbers to continue to go down – so we are here today to urge families to celebrate with safety.
We know many communities across the country are struggling financially and some have decided this year to cancel their local fireworks shows. For those who experience fireworks from the backyard instead of the local fairground or school, our message is clear: never, ever allow children to play with or be around them unsupervised and adults should also use caution when setting them off.
This message is so important today, because 70 percent of all fireworks related injuries occur between June 20 and July 20.
I encourage everyone to put safety first and follow the laws in your state, city, or county on the purchase and use of fireworks.
My life’s work has been about the well-being of children and this event today is so important to me because children and teenagers have been killed and serious burned in fireworks incidents.
We know full well that our safety message today is competing with Internet videos in which children, teenagers and adults try to create eye-catching explosions with fireworks.
Well, we are going to show you soon, just how serious and even deadly it can be to not use fireworks safely. Children continue to be burned by 2000 degree sparklers and improperly used bottle rockets. Teenagers and adults have lost fingers, their eyes, and their lives by setting off illegal cherry bombs, M80s, M1000s and professional fireworks.
All of us on this stage have the same message on illegal and professional fireworks – don’t make them, don’t purchase them and don’t go near them. You will hear more from my colleagues about how we work together to catch and prosecute those who do not not heed our warning. I want the public to know that CPSC stands for safety and we back that up by working
- with Customs and Border Protection at the ports to catch fireworks that do not meet our standards.
- with ATF domestically to catch those making and selling illegal fireworks.
- and with the Justice Department to prosecute and imprison offenders.
Again, our coordinated, proactive efforts are aimed at saving lives and keeping consumers celebrating and playing with the family during this holiday – and not end up in the hospital.
Let me close by saying that if you live in a state that allows consumer firecrackers or aerials to be purchased - and I come from such a state – please use them safely.
Follow CPSC’s tips and have a bucket of water or a garden hose on hand; never re-light or pick up a firework that didn’t go off; light one at a time, on a flat, dry surface; and never have your body over the device as you are lighting the fuse.
The Fourth of July is a wonderful time of year and we know fireworks are part of the tradition of celebrating the holiday - but let’s celebrate with safety.