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Federal and State Agencies Warn About Dangers of Fireworks

Consumer Product Safety Commission: Sparklers Were Top Cause of Injuries Last Year
Fireworks Tent Sale
Pennsylvania-based Keystone Fireworks holds a tent sale outside a 7-Eleven convenience store in East Brunswick. Dave Schatz

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ–Fireworks-related injuries sent nearly 13,000 people to emergency rooms across the country last year, according to the federal government.

“Celebrate safely when using fireworks,” cautioned the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) as Independence Day approached, citing holiday barbeques, cookouts and pool parties.

The CPSC said eight fireworks-related deaths were reported in 2017, with the victims ranging in age from four to 57.

About 12,900 fireworks-related, emergency department-treated injuries were reported with sparklers found to be the top cause, accounting for 14%, or 1,806, of the estimated injuries.

“We want to make sure everyone takes simple safety steps to celebrate safely,” said Ann Marie Buerkle, CPSC acting chairman. “We work with the fireworks industry, monitor incoming fireworks shipments at the ports and enforce federal fireworks safety regulations,” she said, citing a safe Fourth of July for all.

New Jersey allows some types of consumer fireworks known as "non-explosive or non-aerial.”

Just days prior to Independence Day last year, then-Governor Chris Christie signed a bill allowing the sales and use of  non-aerial fireworks such as hand-held sparklers, ground-based sparklers, and novelty fireworks like poppers and snappers in the state. 

“While non-aerial fireworks are legal in New Jersey, it is important to remember that any fireworks are inherently dangerous because they can burn people, animals, and property,” said Lt. Governor Sheila Y. Oliver, who also serves as the Commissioner of the state's Department of Community Affairs.

“We urge the public, especially people with young children under their care, to review the state’s firework safety guidelines and to use fireworks with an abundance of caution.”

The cautionary announcement from the CPSC included the following safety recommendations:

  • Never use or make professional-grade fireworks.
  • Do not buy or use fireworks that are packaged in brown paper; this is often a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays and are not for consumer use.
  • Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks, including sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit (hot enough to melt some metals).
  • Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Move to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.
  • Never point or throw fireworks at another person or occupied area.
  • Light fireworks one at a time, then move away from them quickly.
  • Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy, in case of fire or other mishap.
  • Never try to relight or handle malfunctioning fireworks. Soak them with water and throw them away.
  • After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding the device to prevent a trash fire.

More information is available at the CPSC's online fireworks safety education center and its list of recalled fireworks.