Nearly 9,000 People Injured Each Year by Fireworks

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Fireworks are a traditional part of the Fourth of July celebration in the US, but many forget that these explosives are capable of causing severe injuries. Nearly 9,000 people were injured as a result of fireworks in 2009, according to a new study by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). One out of every three people hurt was a child under the age of 15.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, bottle rockets, roman candles and sparklers accounted for most of the burns, wounds, and “shrapnel” that caused emergency room visits over the Fourth of July holiday. Most of the injuries occurred to the hands, eyes, and face. Boys were injured more often than girls.

"Fireworks are basically explosives and all are capable of causing severe injuries, but even minor injuries can cause significant disability when it comes to sight and hand function," said trauma surgeon Dr. Thomas Esposito of Loyola University Medical Center.

Injuries not only include burns. Parents should also remember that fireworks could cause permanent hearing loss in children. Having children wear earplugs during a fireworks show can help reduce the risk, says Jennifer Simpson, clinical assistant professor of the Audiology Clinic at Purdue University.

In addition, fireworks are responsible for more than 30,000 fires annually nationwide, according to data from the US Fire Administration. Acting Administrator Glenn Gaines said these not only increase the demands on fire departments and cause millions of dollars in property damage, but the US has lost four firefighters as a result of the use of illegal fireworks.

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Generally, more fires in the U.S. are reported on Independence Day than on any other day of the year, with fireworks accounting for than half, more than any other cause.

Health experts recommend that Americans celebrate Independence Day safely by leaving the fireworks to the professionals and watching the display at least one quarter of a mile away. But if you decide to use fireworks yourself, use the following safety procedures to avoid injury.

• Always have a non-drinking adult present to handle the fireworks. If you are too impaired to drive, you are too impaired to set off fireworks
• Never allow young children to play with fireworks, even sparklers. Sparklers can reach 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit, hot enough to melt gold.
• Never try to re-light fireworks that did not explode or ignite the first time.
• Keep a bucket of water or fire extinguisher present in case of fire.
• Light fireworks on a clean, flat surface away from the house or flammable materials.
• Read and follow all manufacturer's warnings and instructions.
• If there are no instructions or product labels, the item may have been made illegally and could be unsafe; illegal fireworks, which are made without the quality control standards of legal products, are extremely unpredictable.
• Protect your eyes by wearing safety glasses or goggles. In the event of eye injury, do not touch, rub or press on the injured eye. Do not attempt to remove a foreign body from the eye yourself. Seek immediate care from an ophthalmologist or hospital emergency room.
• Only light one item at a time.
• Never throw fireworks at another person.
• Never carry fireworks in your pocket.
• Never shoot fireworks from metal or glass containers.
• Never experiment, modify, or attempt to make your own fireworks.

Those purchasing fireworks should also be aware of this recent recall from the CPSC. Super Lightning Rockets made by Big Fireworks of Lansing, Michigan, have been recalled due to being overloaded with pyrotechnic composition, violating the federal regulatory standard. This could result in a greater than expected explosion, position a greater risk for burns and bodily harm.

About 4,700 were distributed at fireworks stands and stores in Florida, Indiana, Pennsylvania, and Michigan between November 2009 and June 2010.

These stick-type rockets have a 1 ½ inch diameter engine that is mounted on a 32-inch wood stick. The engine is wrapped in black paper with a background of the solar system and the writing “Super Rocket” in assorted colors. The rockets were sold in packs of four for about $20, and have item number GCR3150 printed on the front of the package and on the rocket engine.

Consumers can receive a full refund by contacting Big Fireworks at (866) 514-6225 between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday, or by visiting the firm's website at www.bigfireworks.com.

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