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Fireworks Safety — Fireworks Causing More Personal Injuries

Today, the Consumer Product Safety Commission had a fireworks safety conference on the National Mall in Washington, DC.

According to the CPSC, in 2010, approximately 8,600 Americans ended up in hospital rooms because of fireworks injuries.  Most of these injuries involved burns to the hands or the face.  Sadly, about 40 percent of the injuries were to children younger than 15.

There are several key components of firework safety.

PREVENT FIREWORKS INJURIES.  Don’t let you, your children, or your friends become victims.  Follow these recommendations from the CPSC:

  • Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.
  • Avoid buying fireworks that are packaged in brown paper because this is often a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays and that they could pose a danger to consumers.
  • Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities. Parents don’t realize that young children suffer injuries from sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees – hot enough to melt some metals. (I highlighted this one.  Too often we think of sparklers as harmless toys, and we let kids use them.  This was truly shocking to me.  Brooks)
  • Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.
  • Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully.
  • 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 fireworks one at a time, then move back quickly.
  • Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.
  • After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding it to prevent a trash fire.
  • Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them.

Injuries to friends and families often result in lawsuits.  Obviously, people that are messing around and doing ridiculous things like shooting fireworks at others can be sued for any injuries they cause.  But the potential claims go beyond that.  For example, if parents are negligent and either give their children (or other children) fireworks or if the parents fail to properly supervise the kids, then the parents could be sued for any injuries the children sustain or cause.

Obviously, the most important part of this warning is avoiding the injuries altogether.  None of us want the holiday season ruined by a hospital visit.

PREVENT FIRES.  In addition to the typical injuries, we face additional problems in Austin and Central Texas (really, all of  Texas).  Even after last night’s rain, we’re still in a drought, and the area is still dry.  A huge risk this year is that fireworks spark serious fires. 

Not only would these be devestating, but lighting fireworks that result in a fire that damages someone else’s property or causes them injury could result in a lawsuit against the person shooting off the fireworks.

BEWARE OF GEL-FUELED POTS & BURNERS.  One of the new issues the CPSC is highlighting in its conference is that dangers of gel-fueled pots & burners.  You will see these as tiki torches, pots you burn to keep bugs away, etc.   There are also new fire starters for grills that are gel based.   These items are highly dangerous and causing increasing injuries. 

There are several factors that make these so dangerous.  First, the fires are hard to put out.  Unlike most fires, the only effective way to put out a significant gel-fueled fire is by using dry chemicals.  This means that stop, drop & roll doesn’t work; it means that trying to beat out the fire doesn’t work.  You have to use a fire extinguisher or baking soda to put these fires out. 

The second thing that is so dangerous is that you can’t see the flame.  Unlike traditional fires, when these gels are burning, they don’t produce a flame.  If you see someone whose shirt is burning, there’s no way to know where the fire actually is  (you will see char marks after the fact).  That makes it hard to put these fires out.

The key for safety is to be aware of the extreme dangers so you will be cautious when using these items. 

Below is a story from the Today show that talks about the CPSC’s demonstration.

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