Keep Kids Safe This Independence Day

Contact: T. J. Bucholz (517) 241-2112
Agency: Community Health

June 30, 2005

This Fourth of July, fireworks will be the centerpiece of many celebrations. Although extremely popular, fireworks pose a serious risk, especially to young children.

Of the more than 4,000 fireworks-related injuries to children under 14 each year, the majority occur in the month surrounding the Fourth of July, with older kids (typically 10- to 14-year-olds) suffering the most injuries. Sparklers (often considered the safest fireworks), rockets and firecrackers are responsible for the bulk of fireworks-related injuries.

“Many parents and caregivers overestimate their child’s ability to handle fireworks, creating a dangerous environment for everyone involved,” said Janet Olszewski, Director of the Michigan Department of Community Health. “They may not realize the devastating consequences of fireworks, including injuries to the hands, eyes, or head that can sometimes result in amputations, blindings, or even death.”

Safe Kids Michigan, whose lead agency is the Michigan Department of Community Health, offers the following fireworks safety tips:

  • Only adults should handle fireworks. Tell children that they should leave the area immediately and inform an adult if their friends are using fireworks.
  • Discuss safety procedures with your children. Teach children to “stop, drop and roll” if their clothes catch fire. Make sure they know how to call 9-1-1. Show them how to put out fireworks with water or a fire extinguisher.
  • Read labels and carefully follow directions. All fireworks must carry warning labels describing necessary safety precautions. Following the directions greatly minimizes the risk of injury.
  • Never use fireworks indoors.
  • Be sure spectators are out of range before lighting fireworks.
  • Never aim or throw fireworks at another person.
  • Never place your face or any other body part over fireworks.
  • Never try to reignite fireworks that malfunction.
  • Never carry fireworks in your pocket.
  • Light fireworks only on smooth, flat surfaces, away from houses, dry leaves and other flammable materials.
What is Legal?

Consumer fireworks are legal for public sale in 36 states and the District of Columbia. The term “fireworks” includes shells and mortars, multiple tube devices, Roman candles, rockets, sparklers, firecrackers with no more than 50 milligrams of powder, and novelty items such as snakes and airplanes. (Some states may permit all or limit the types of consumer fireworks to be sold.)

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission adopted a standard, effective March 1997, to eliminate the deadly tipover hazard in large multiple-tube fireworks. This standard requires all domestic manufacturers of multiple-tube devices to develop a new, safer base.

Fireworks that have been banned from public sale by federal law include firecrackers containing more than 50 milligrams of powder, cherry bombs, M-80s, large reloadable shells and aerial bombs. Mail-order kits designed to build these fireworks are also banned.

According to the CPSC, seven states ban all consumer fireworks – Arizona, Delaware, Georgia, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island. Seven states only allow sparklers or other novelties – Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Vermont. There may also be local laws prohibiting or limiting the use of certain consumer fireworks.

Safe Kids Michigan recommends that all families observe the simple guidelines that can help keep Fourth of July festivities enjoyable and safe.

Safe Kids Michigan is part of The National SAFE KIDS Campaign, the first and only national organization dedicated solely to the prevention of unintentional childhood injury – the number one killer of children ages 14 and under. More than three hundred state and local SAFE KIDS coalitions in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, comprise the campaign.