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Fireworks Are Not For Kids

Fireworks will light up skies all across the country this weekend, but many people, especially children, are at risk for injury from fireworks.

Angela Mickalide, program director for the National Safe Kids Campaign, offers some advice about how to keep the young ones out of harm's way.

She tells The Early Show co-anchor Rene Syler, "What parents don't understand is just how dangerous fireworks can be for children. They result in injuries to the eye, to the hands, dismemberment, blinding and sometimes even death."

Almost 60 percent of all fireworks-related injuries occur during the month surrounding the Fourth of July. Every year, nearly 4,000 children, ages 14 and under, are treated in emergency rooms for fireworks-related injuries, and children, ages 10 to 14, account for the majority of these incidents. Males, especially those aged 10 to 14, are at the highest risk of fireworks-related injuries. Children aged 4 and under are at the highest risk for sparkler-related injuries.

Mickalide notes, "Can you imagine a firework exploding in the child's face or on his hands? When it comes to sparklers, there's a misconception among parents that they're relatively safe when, in actuality, they can be extremely deadly. They reach temperatures exceeding 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit and can cause severe burns, ignite clothing."

One of the illegal fireworks and the most powerful is the M-1000. Videotape from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) shows there is nothing left of a watermelon when a M-1000 explodes underneath. Also shown is the ease with which a sparkler can ignite clothing, and the severe damage that even a less powerful M-80 can do to a hand.

Mickalide says, "The National Safe Kids Campaign recommends that families leave the pyrotechnics in the hands of the trained professionals. People at the Fourth of July should be attending the public celebration.

"If parents still choose to use fireworks, make sure that children never are allowed to play with or get near the fireworks. Keep a bucket nearby in case the fireworks malfunction in some way. Never reignite a firework that has been already exploded or has malfunctioned in any way. It's just so important that parents take the necessary safety steps, because nobody wants to end up in the hospital emergency room on the Fourth of July."

If using fireworks, remember to follow fireworks laws in your area, practice extreme caution and remember these vital safety guidelines recommended by the National Safe Kids Campaign:

  • Only adults should handle fireworks. Tell children that they should leave the area immediately if their friends are using fireworks. Never give fireworks - even sparklers - to young children. Sparklers burn at temperatures of more than 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit, hot enough to cause third-degree burns.
  • Discuss safety procedure with your children. Teach children to "stop, drop and roll" if their clothes catch fire. Make sure they know how to call 911. Show them how to put out fireworks by using water or a fire extinguisher. Keep a bucket of water or a hose handy in case of a malfunction or fire.
  • Read labels and carefully follow directions. All fireworks must carry a warning label describing necessary safety precautions.
  • 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 or shoot them in metal or glass containers.
  • Only light fireworks on a smooth, flat surface away from the house, dry leaves and flammable materials. Light one item at a time, then move back quickly.

Consumer fireworks are legal for public sale in many states. They include 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 some types of consumer fireworks to be sold. It is important to note that states may also have local laws prohibiting or limiting the use of certain consumer fireworks.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission actively works with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the Justice Department's Office of Consumer Litigation, U.S. Attorney's Offices across the country, and the Bureau of Customs & Border Protection to prevent millions of hazardous and illegal fireworks from reaching consumers. Fireworks that have been banned from public sale under federal law include firecrackers containing more than 50 milligrams of powder, cherry bombs, M-80s, large re-loadable shells and aerial bombs. Mail-order kits designed to build these fireworks are also banned.

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