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Oklahoma Safe Kids Coalition
PO Box 26307
Oklahoma City, OK 73126-9983
(405) 271-5695 Fax (405) 271-2974

FOR RELEASE: June 20, 2002
CONTACT: Dick Gunn

Spark Safely this Fourth of July

During July, the emergency room has its share of visits from injured kids - broken bones from falls, cuts and abrasions from bike crashes, and bruises from playing sports. What we might not expect to see are toddlers with major burns on their faces or kids who have lost a hand or eye - all as a result of fireworks.

Families across the nation will celebrate the Fourth of July with picnics, outings to the beach and neighborhood barbeques. Above all, fireworks displays will be the highlight of Fourth of July festivities.

Unfortunately, these exciting and fun festivities can quickly turn into tragedies. Every year, more than 5,000 children ages 14 and under are treated in emergency rooms for fireworks-related injuries, and children 10 to 14 account for most of these incidents. Nearly 75 percent of these injuries occur during the month surrounding the Fourth of July. Sparklers, while often considered the safest type of fireworks, join firecrackers and rockets as those causing the bulk of emergency room-treated injuries.

Many parents and caregivers overestimate their children's ability to handle fireworks, creating a dangerous environment for everyone involved. Fireworks-related injuries usually involve the hands/fingers, eyes or head and can sometimes result in amputations, blindness, or even death.

"Fireworks can be the best part of a Fourth of July celebration for kids, yet each year hundreds of kids are permanently disfigured or worse due to burns caused by fireworks that ended up in the wrong hands, " said Martha Collar, Oklahoma SAFE KIDS Coalition coordinator, a program of the Oklahoma State Department of Health. "The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to watch them at a community celebration where professionals handle them."

What is Legal

Some consumer fireworks are legal for public sale in Oklahoma. They include all fireworks meeting the requirements of the U.S. Consumer Product Commission. Sky rockets, including bottle rockets or stick rockets M-80s and mail order sales of fireworks are specifically prohibited.

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 these multiple-tube devices to develop a new, safe base.

Fireworks that have been banned from public sale by the CPSC include firecrackers containing more than 50 milligrams of powder, cherry bombs, M-80 salutes, large reloadable shells, aerial bombs and larger firecrackers containing more than two grains of powder. Mail-order kits designed to create these fireworks are also banned.

Homemade or illegal fireworks are extremely dangerous and should never be used by your family. Fireworks legally available for sale to the public can also be harmful if not used properly, and they should never be treated as toys.

Safety Guidelines

If using fireworks, please 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.
  • 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 9-1-1. Show them how to put out fireworks by using water or a fire extinguisher.
  • 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.
  • Only light fireworks on a smooth, flat surface away from the house, dry leaves and flammable materials.

Oklahoma SAFE KIDS Coalition recommends these important guidelines to help keep your Fourth of July festivities enjoyable and safe. Don't let dangerous sparks stand between your family and a wonderful Fourth of July celebration.


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