Fireworks have been a part of Independence Day celebrations since the dawn of the republic and backyard fireworks displays are a common custom for many Arkansas families around the Fourth of July.
Fireworks such as bottle rockets and sparklers are most often the entertainment of choice. The fun can go without incident if consumers take some basic safety precautions. However, injuries from bottle rockets and sparklers alone account for about one-quarter of all fireworks-related injuries each year. And, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 60 percent of all fireworks injuries and deaths occur within the 30 days around Independence Day.
Attorney General Dustin McDaniel issued this consumer alert to remind Arkansans to keep safety in mind when using fireworks this year, as well as to inform consumers about state law related to the sale and purchase of fireworks.
"The best and safest way to enjoy the tradition of Independence Day fireworks is to watch one of the many large public displays scheduled across the state," McDaniel said. "We do understand, though, that some consumers may want to use fireworks themselves, and in those instances, they should take all the necessary steps to make sure they spend their holiday weekend with family and friends, and not in the emergency room."
Close to 9,000 people every year are treated in hospitals for fireworks-related injuries. More than half of those ER visits are for burns to the hands, head or face. Most injuries are because of malfunctioning fireworks or improper use.
Here are six ways to stay safe:
• Supervise children at all times and make sure adults light every firework, including sparklers – remember sparklers can burn at a temperature of 2,000 degrees.
• Stay away from others while lighting fireworks and never aim fireworks at another person.
• Never shoot fireworks from metal or glass containers.
• Keep a garden hose or bucket of water within reach in case of fire.
• Never re-light a malfunctioning, or "dud," firework. Soak the "duds" in water and throw them away.
• Only light one firework at a time and move away quickly after lighting it.
McDaniel reminded consumers that the state’s Fireworks Act restricts the types of fireworks that can be sold in the state and the amount of explosive material that each firework may contain.
Firework vendors are required to have a state license. They may not sell fireworks to anyone under the age of 12 or to anyone who appears to be intoxicated. Municipal ordinances may also restrict or regulate fireworks sales.
Under state law, certain fireworks may only be sold each year from June 20 to July 10 and from Dec. 10 to Jan. 5. Each of those products sold must be labeled I.C.C. Class C Common Fireworks. The class includes Roman candles, skyrockets, helicopter-type rockets, cylindrical fountains, cone fountains, wheels, illuminating torches, mines and shells, firecrackers and salutes.
Other devices may be sold at any time. Those include items like sparklers, smoke sticks without report and serpentine pop-off novelties.
For more information about fireworks safety and Arkansas’s fireworks laws, contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 1-800-482-8982 or visit www.GotYourBackArkansas.org.