As the country prepares to celebrate Independence Day this July 4th, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reminds consumers about safety. A new CPSC study just issued highlighted an increase in the number of fireworks-related deaths and injuries. There are device malfunctions as well as improper use associated with most injuries.
Last year, there were eight deaths and an estimated 11,400 consumers who sustained injuries related to fireworks. This showed an increase from 2012 of 8,700 injuries. Sixty-five percent (or 7,400) of the injuries in 2013 occurred in the 30 days surrounding July 4, 2013. CPSC staff reviewed fireworks incident reports obtained from hospital emergency rooms, death certificate files, news clippings and other sources to estimate deaths, injuries and incidents. Injuries were frequently the result of the user playing with lit fireworks or igniting fireworks while holding the device. Consumers also reported injuries related to devices that malfunctioned or devices that did not work as expected, such as tipping over or blowouts.
“CPSC works year-round to help prevent deaths and injuries from legal and illegal fireworks,” said Acting Chairman Bob Adler. “We engage the fireworks industry, monitor incoming fireworks shipments at the ports, and enforce federal safety rules, so that all Americans have a safe Fourth of July.”
A higher estimate per capita injury rate of children younger than age 5 was reported last year, more than any other group. Past reports indicate that in some cases, consumers feel comfortable handing fireworks devices off to children, such as sparklers and bottle rockets, as they are perceived to be less dangerous. In 2013, sparklers and rockets accounted for more than 40 percent of all estimated injuries.
According to the report, fireworks incidents become deadly when banned, professional and home-manufactured devices are involved. In each of the eight fireworks-related deaths recorded in 2013, the victim was manipulating (or watching nearby someone who was handling) a banned, professional or home-manufactured device.
CPSC enforces the mandatory fireworks requirements in the Federal Hazardous Substances Act (FHSA) and the Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA), by working with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and the U.S. Department of Justice. Together, these agencies monitor products entering the country, stop illegal use and distribution of fireworks and prosecute violators of the federal requirements.
CPSC and CBP staff sampled and tested a random selection of imported fireworks in 2013. Of those tested, 33 percent were noncompliant with federal requirements. Most often violations involved overloaded report composition and failure to meet fuse burn-time requirements. Luckily, these devices never reached the shelves of American stores or firework stands.
Wishing everyone a safe and happy Fourth of July!
If you or a loved one suffered an injury due to the negligence of a defective product, you may be entitled to compensation. For more information, contact one of our Gacovino Lake attorneys at 1-800-246-HURT (4878).