CPSC Urges Fireworks SafetyJul 1, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP
Fireworks injuries dropped in 2008, but the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) is reminding consumers to put safety first during the Fourth of July holiday and celebrate with caution this year when it comes to fireworks.
According to the CPSC, there were reports of seven fireworks-related deaths and an estimated 7,000 hospital emergency room treated injuries in 2008. In 2007, the CPSC had reports of eleven deaths and an estimated 9,800 injuries. However, even with fewer reported deaths and injuries in 2008, the one-month period surrounding the Fourth of July is still the most dangerous time. In fact, according to the CPSC, 70 percent of all fireworks-related injuries occurred between June 20 and July 20.
“CPSC wants to keep reducing fireworks-related deaths and injuries in 2009,” said Chairman Inez Tenenbaum. “Children should never play with or light fireworks, and adults should watch our demonstrations to see how powerful and dangerous illegal fireworks can be.”
The CPSC encourages consumers who decide to purchase legal fireworks to:
- Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.
- Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them.
- Avoid buying fireworks that come in brown paper packaging, as this can often be a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays and could pose a danger to consumers.
- Adults should always supervise fireworks activities. Parents often don’t realize that there are many injuries from sparklers to children under five. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees - hot enough to melt some metals.
- Never have any portion of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Move back a safe distance immediately after lighting.
- Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not fully functioned.
- Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
- Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.
- Light one item at a time, then move back quickly.
- Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.
- After fireworks fully complete their functioning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket.
As a part of its fireworks enforcement program, CPSC actively works with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Fire Arms (ATF) to investigate roadside stands, warehouses and retail stores that sell professional grade explosives to consumers, and homes that serve as havens for the manufacture of dangerous fireworks devices. These investigations have resulted in dozens of successful prosecutions by the Justice Department’s Office of Consumer Litigation and U.S. Attorney offices across the country.
On June 19, 2009, a federal judge in the Eastern District of New York sentenced Jon Cea and Vincent Cea to 24 months and 36 months in federal prison, respectively, after they pleaded guilty to conspiracy to engage in the business of dealing in explosive materials, involving the illegal sale of more than 1,000 pounds of explosives. The defendants and their customers were not licensed, yet they purchased and sold professional display fireworks. CPSC and the Justice Department worked in partnership on this case.