FEMA Reminds 4th of July Celebrants to Stay Safe

June 29, 2005

Fireworks and celebrations go together, especially during the Fourth of July. But fireworks can be dangerous, causing serious burn and eye injuries.

Michael Brown, Under Secretary of Homeland Security for Emergency Preparedness and Response and head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is urging consumers to stay safe this Independence Day.

“Parades and cookouts and fireworks are hallmarks of an American Independence Day,” Brown said. “But improper use of fireworks can turn a joyful celebration into a tragic one. Users should heed safety advice on packaging and follow the fireworks safety tips of FEMA’s U.S. Fire Administration and other groups to keep this holiday a safe and enjoyable one.”

An estimated 23,200 fireworks fires in 2002 caused approximately $35 million in property loss and almost 60 percent of those fires occur during the month of July around the Independence Day holiday, according to a USFA report released last week. Children under age 15 suffered 45 percent of the 9,300 injuries from fireworks. Firecrackers, sparklers and bottle rockets are the leading contributors to these injuries.

“Fireworks account for a large number of preventable fires and injuries,” Brown said. “We’re not trying to take the fun out of Independence Day celebrations but parents must use extreme caution in assuring that children are properly supervised in the safe handling of legal fireworks. Fireworks should be used only with extreme caution. Older children should be closely supervised, and younger children should not be allowed to play with fireworks.”

“Fireworks are especially injurious to children — even those that are considered relatively safe like sparklers and firecrackers,” said U.S. Fire Administrator R. David Paulison. “All fireworks users must follow local and state laws regarding the purchase and lighting of fireworks.”

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