Play It Safe With Fireworks

Fireworks and the Fourth of July go hand and hand, but Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates there were 9,200 emergency room-treated injuries associated with all fireworks last year — 6,400 fireworks-related injuries occurred between June 16 and July 16, 2006, alone.

The CPSC found that three times as many males were injured as females and between 2000 and 2006, and an average of seven people died a year because of accidents with fireworks. Almost 1/3 of those deaths involved professional fireworks the consumers had obtained illegally.

"They're often referred to as fireworks — truly, they're explosives," Julie Vallese of the CPSC told The Early Show co-anchor Hannah Storm.

Vallese demonstrated how illegal fireworks or fireworks intended for professional use can cause severe injuries.

Demonstration No. 1: M1000 illegal firework in a watermelon

The watermelon was completely blown up.

"We do see … amputations of fingers and even limbs," Vallese said. "There are eye injuries and permanent scarring. So the devastation and the injuries really are permanent to consumers."

Demonstration No. 2: Mannequin and professional fireworks

The mannequin was positioned leaning slightly forward, as if to light the firework, which then exploded in its face.

"Professional-grade fireworks have very long fuses but they burn very quickly," Vallese said. "Oftentimes, consumers just don't have the kind of time they need to get away with a professional-grade firework."

Sparklers

Vallese said that the majority of injuries to children younger than 5 are from sparklers.

CPSC Safety Tips

  • Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.
  • Don't buy fireworks that come in brown, paper packaging. This can be a sign that the fireworks were made for the professional shows and could pose a danger to consumers.
  • Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not fully functioned.
  • Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose nearby in case of fire or other mishap.
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