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Fireworks Safety Brief

Losses

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, national losses involving fireworks amount to 3 deaths and 10,527 injuries annually. Hand and finger injuries are the most common and account for 32 percent of all injuries. Head and eye injuries occur with about the same frequency, equaling 19 and 18 percent of total injuries.

Background

A review of firework mishaps shows a variety of factors contribute to the typical mishap. Most pre-school age victims are injured by fireworks ignited by someone else, while older children who are injured are usually lighting the fireworks themselves. Children under age five are commonly hurt by rocket-type fireworks; small firecrackers and ground spinners injure the majority of children between the ages of 5 and 14. Most of the injuries associated with large, illegal firecrackers such as M-80's are to older teenagers or adults.

Examples

The following examples are typical of mishap reports received at the Naval Safety Center:

  • An MM3 lit a "Dixie Cannon" at the end of a family fireworks show. The device either ignited prematurely or the petty officer took too long to get away. A flaming ball hit him in the face. He suffered severe burns and loss of his left eye.
  • During a family gathering, a DD3 lit a cone fountain device. The fountain erupted as soon as he lit the fuse, sending sparks and unburned phosphorous under the leg of his shorts. He burned his upper thigh and groin. He also burned his hands while trying to remove the burning phosphorous.
  • A PO was sitting on a bench in front of a grocery store when a 14 year old ran past and threw a lit firecracker into his lap. As he was trying to throw the firecracker away from him, it exploded, injuring his hand and breaking his finger.
  • An AA was lighting a firecracker form a cigarette held by a body. The firecracker exploded. The AA lost the end of his finger, severely cut his hang, received second degree burns to his stomach and power burns to his chin and neck.
  • An airman was at a friend's house, celebrating the Fourth. As he bent down to pickup something off the ground,, someone fired a bottle rocket at him. He was hit in the eye. Fortunately, he regained his sight.

Recommendations

Recommendations include the following:

  • Do not buy and use fireworks. Attend professional firework displays. Make sure fireworks are legal in your state, if you decide to have your own firework display.
  • Don't allow young children to play with fireworks under any circumstance.
  • Light fireworks in a clear area away from houses and flammable materials.
  • Don't try to relight or handle malfunctioning fireworks. Keep water nearby to douse them.
  • Be sure other people are out of range before you light fireworks.
  • Never light fireworks in a container.
  • Store fireworks in a dry, cool place. Check the package for special instructions on storage.
  • Dispose of fireworks as prescribed by your local state law.
  • Beware of mail-order, make-your-own firework kits. Some of these kits can produce dangerous, explosive devices.
  • If your command is using fireworks to celebrate the Fourth of July, commercial vendors must prepare, handle and operate all firework displays according to NAVSEA Publication OP-5, Volume 1, page 2-8, paragraph 2-1.11.1. Vendors must be licensed under local and state laws. CNO (OP-411) can grant exceptions to this policy.

Sources:

Consumer Product Safety Commission
Washington, DC 20207

NAVSEA Publication OP-5, Volume 1