The 4th of July marks our country’s Independence. Its a great day for fun with family and friends. Unfortunately, the day for many can be marred with tragedy. I am spending the holiday this year in New York City and I awoke to the news of a college student who was visiting from Virginia having lost his left foot in a freak accident. The college student was rock climbing in Central Park. When he jumped off the rock, he landed on a plastic bag that was filled with a homemade mix of explosives. Police officials believe the plastic bag was likely left abandoned in the park by someone who had tried but failed to detonate the fireworks. The college student’s life is forever changed because of someone’s gross negligence.
The Center for Disease and Prevention (CDC), The U.S Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) all advocate for the use of fireworks to be left to professionals. NFPC is clear on their recommendation, they oppose the consumer use of fireworks. Here’s what the CDC has to say:
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that 8500 persons in the United States are treated in emergency departments each year for fireworks-related injuries. Of all fireworks-related injuries, 70%–75% occur during a 30-day period that surrounds the July 4th holiday (June 23–July 23). Seven of every 100 persons injured by fireworks are hospitalized, approximately 40% of those injured are children aged <14 years, and males are injured three times more often than females. The injury rate is highest among boys aged 10–14 years (3). Most commonly, injuries from fireworks affect the hands (34%), face (12%), and eyes (17%). Injuries are more frequent and more severe among persons who are active participants than among bystanders.
The estimated annual cost of fireworks-related injuries is $100 million. In 1997, the U.S. National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) estimated that fireworks were responsible for direct property damage of $22.7 million.
Although some types of fireworks are legal in some states, CDC, NFPA, and CPSC recommend that fireworks be used only by professionals. All fireworks potentially are dangerous (e.g., sparklers burn at more than 1000 F [538 C]), especially to children. Because fireworks are unregulated, there is always a risk for injury with fireworks.
Here are recommendations from the CDC on firework safety:
- Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.
- Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities.
- Avoid buying fireworks packaged in brown paper, which often means they were made for professional displays and could be dangerous for consumers.
- Make sure you, your kids, and others watch fireworks displays from a safe distance.
- Call 911 immediately if someone is injured from fireworks.