A special study (pdf) conducted by CPSC staff found that 65 percent of all fireworks injuries in 2011 were sustained during the 30 days surrounding the Independence Day holiday. More than half of these injuries were the result of unexpected ignition of the device or consumers not using fireworks as intended. Fireworks injuries most often resulted in burns to the hands and head, including the eyes, face, and ears. According to the special study, sparklers, firecrackers, and aerial devices were associated with the most incidents.
Whether it is the sparkle of the bright lights, or the thunderous boom of the explosion, there is no denying the thrill that fireworks can bring to an Independence Day celebration. Unfortunately, when consumers get their hands on professional fireworks, the results can be deadly. Last year, CPSC received reports of four consumers who were killed by either professional-grade or homemade firework devices, while an estimated 9,600 consumers were injured.
"For thousands of consumers, last year's 4th of July celebration ended with a visit to the emergency room," said CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum. "CPSC wants you to understand the risks with legal and illegal fireworks, in order to prevent an injury, or worse, during this holiday."
While the majority of fireworks injury reports involve emergency room treatment and release, CPSC is aware of more severe and fatal injuries that are associated with consumer use of professional-grade and homemade fireworks. Reports of faster-than-expected explosions and unpredictable flight paths of aerial devices have resulted in tragic consequences for some consumers.
In the four reported fireworks-related deaths, the victims were killed when the illegal devices exploded, causing severe trauma to the head and face, and resulting in decapitation in one incident. In other incidents involving professional-grade or homemade devices, the victims reportedly sustained severe burns and the loss of fingers.
On the grounds of the Washington Monument today, Chairman Tenenbaum led the agency's annual fireworks press event, including a live demonstration of the dangers associated with fireworks and provided consumers with commonsense steps to prevent injuries this year. The Chairman was joined by Arthur Herbert, Assistant Director of Enforcement Programs and Services with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), and Cynthia Quarterman, Administrator of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration with the Department of Transportation (DOT).
CPSC and its federal partners highlighted continued import surveillance and enforcement actions to prevent hazardous firework devices from reaching the U.S. marketplace. CPSC and its partners at ATF and DOT are committed to stopping the manufacture, importation, and sale of illegal fireworks.
Consumers who decide to purchase legal fireworks are urged to take these safety steps: