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State fire commissioner shares tips for using fireworks safely ahead of July 4 holiday

The Consumer Product Safety Commission reported that in 2018, there were 5 fireworks-related deaths and nearly 9,100 patients were treated for injuries across the US

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Note: The video is from May 27.

With Independence Day fast approaching, Pennsylvania Fire Commissioner Bruce Trego, local leaders, and the Burn Prevention Network teamed up Thursday to urge Pennsylvanians to use caution when setting off fireworks.

“We say it every year because it’s true; fireworks are not toys,” said Trego. “With significant progress being made on the vaccination front, this summer holds the promise of a return to normalcy in many ways. Much like a vaccine, there are many simple precautions we can take to ensure a fireworks display doesn’t result in an unnecessary trip to an emergency room.”

The Consumer Product Safety Commission reported that in 2018, there were five nonprofessional fireworks-related deaths and an estimated 9,100 patients were treated for fireworks injuries in hospital emergency rooms nationwide. 

Approximately half of the injuries reported were burns, with the head, eyes, face, or ears being the most frequently impacted part of the body. Thirty-six percent of those injuries involved children under the age of 15.

Trego gave the following suggestions:

  • Never allow children to play with fireworks, even sparklers, which can burn at temperatures of at least 1200 degrees.
  • Only allow adults to light fireworks one at a time, then quickly back away.
  • Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
  • Keep a bucket of water or garden hose handy in case of a fire.
  • Never pick up or try to relight fireworks that have not fully ignited.
  • After the fireworks have burned, fully douse them with water before picking them up or disposing to prevent trash fires.
  • Never use fireworks after consuming alcohol, or other medications or substances that can impair judgment or the ability to react quickly to an emergency.
  • Whether attending a professional display, or using consumer fireworks, always remain at a safe distance from the ignition location.
  • Be sensitive of neighbors and their pets, particularly if military veterans live nearby.

“Sale of consumer fireworks have more than doubled in the US between 2019 and 2020,” said Dan Dillard, CEO of the Burn Prevention Network.  “During that same period, fireworks-related injuries have increased by 50 percent. In Pennsylvania, this situation has been even more acute since the passage of the Fireworks Law of 2017. 

"BPN understands that fireworks are a traditional part of many community celebrations. Staying safe and informed while celebrating is why we have launched 'Celebrate Safely PA!', a statewide public safety campaign.”

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