(KFVS) - Independence Day and fireworks go hand in hand, but fireworks shouldn't go in consumers' hands.
That's the message the National Fire Protection Association is reinforcing this Fourth of July. Fireworks annually cause devastating burns, injuries, fires, and even death, making them too dangerous to be used safely by consumers.
"Each year, thousands of people are injured from using consumer fireworks," said Lorraine Carli, NFPA's vice president of Outreach and Advocacy. "Even sparklers, which are often thought of as harmless enough for children to hold, burn at 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit and can cause significant injuries."
On Independence Day in a typical year, fireworks account for two out of five of all reported U.S. fires, more than any other cause of fire. On average each year, fireworks start 18,500 fires, including 1,300 structure fires, 300 vehicle fires, and 16,900 outside and other fires. These fires cause an annual average of three deaths, 40 civilian injuries, and $43 million in direct property damage.
However, the vast majority of fireworks injuries occur without a fire starting. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission's 2015 Fireworks Annual Report, U.S. hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 11,900 people for fireworks-related injuries; 51 percent of those injuries were to the extremities and 41 percent were to the head. Two-thirds (65 percent) of the injuries were burns, Children younger than 15 years of age accounted for one-quarter (26 percent) of the estimated injuries. Sparklers were the leading cause of fireworks injuries. More than half of the fireworks injuries incurred by children under five years of age were caused by sparklers.
"Knowing the harm fireworks inflict each year, particularly among young people, we urge everyone to leave fireworks to the professionals who are trained to safely put on spectacular displays. It is by far the safest way to enjoy them," said Carli.
The Division of Fire Safety reminds Missourians who choose to use consumer fireworks to be aware of any local ordinances related to fireworks, and asks that they follow these safety tips:
- Keep children away from fireworks. If teens are permitted to handle fireworks, they should have adult supervision.
- Light fireworks one at a time; never try to re-light fireworks that have malfunctioned
- Have a safety plan, like a garden hose or a bucket of water nearby in case of a fire.
- Dispose of fireworks by soaking them in water and leaving them in a trash can.
- Purchase fireworks only from a properly licensed retailer.
- Make sure fireworks are legal in your locality before buying them.
- Only use fireworks in a large open space that has been cleared of flammable materials. Never shoot them off in a glass container.
- Never use fireworks while consuming alcohol.