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U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission Urges Fireworks Safety This Independence Day


New York, Jul 04, 2002

For most Americans, happy Fourth of July memories are filled with fireworks displays that delight the eye and light up the night sky. To enhance safety during this year's festivities, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) urges caution when using these dangerous chemical substances.

According to Thomas Moore, CPSC chairman, "[Consumers] should never buy illegal fireworks…or purchase professional, display fireworks, sometimes sold illegally…" Even in states where certain fireworks, such as sparklers, are legal, revelers need to practice safety precautions to avoid unnecessary harm to life and limb. Even fireworks that seem innocent can cause serious injury, especially to children. Sparklers, for example, can burn at temperatures of 2000 degrees Fahrenheit, and, if used improperly, can cause severe burns or blindness. Far more deadly are the materials used to make cherry bombs, M-80s, M-1000s and quarter sticks whose manufacture and sale was outlawed in 1966. CSPC tests have shown that the blast from one of these "mega-rockets" is comparable to a TNT explosion.

Based on the CPSC's 2001 Fireworks Annual Report, fireworks-related incidents caused four deaths and 9,500 injuries last year, which, however unfortunate these statistics are, reflects a steady decline from the early 1990s. The commission attributes this to enhanced enforcement measures including a cooperative program with he U.S. Customs Service designed to prevent hazardous fireworks containing highly explosive chemicals from reaching consumers. Since the program was initiated in 1988, U.S. Customs has seized 400 million illegal fireworks from docks across the country.

CPSC advises consumers to leave fireworks to the professionals even in those states where it is legal. However, those who live in regions that permit fireworks and wish to indulge in a safe "backyard display" should follow these important guidelines:

Read and follow all warnings and instructions.
A responsible adult should closely supervise all fireworks activities.
Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.
Be sure other people are out of range before lighting fireworks. Never point fireworks at another person.
Only light fireworks on a smooth, flat surface away from the house, dry leaves and flammable materials.
Light one at a time, and then move back quickly.
Never try to re-light fireworks that have not fully functioned.
Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them in metal or glass containers.
Keep a bucket of water or a hose handy in case of a malfunction or fire.

"We all want to spend our Fourth of July with family and friends," said Moore, "not in the emergency room." CPSC urges consumers to celebrate safely and avoid becoming an Independence Day statistic.

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