During the summer season and July 4th holiday hundreds of children and adults are serious injured through the use and misuse of fireworks. Fireworks if properly used can be relatively safe, but many fireworks, present serious risks that each year result in deaths, blindings, amputations and severe burns.

In 2000 nearly 11,000 people were treated in hospital emergency rooms for injuries associated with fireworks. About 55 percent of the injuries were burns, and most of the injuries involved the hands, eyes, and head. Nearly half of the victims were children under 15 years of age.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission cites the following are examples of injuries from fireworks:

A 19-year-old was holding a large firecracker that exploded when it was lit. The man lost the tips of his left index and middle fingers and broke his thumb. He has had many visits to the doctor and will have further surgeries for his injuries.

A 43-year-old male was struck in the eye when a bottle rocket went under his glasses and into his eye. After surgery for lacerations to the eyelid, the man reported that his vision is still blurry and he may require further operations.

The federal government, under the Federal Hazardous Substances Act, prohibits the sale of certain types of fireworks. These banned fireworks include large reloadable mortar shells, cherry bombs, aerial bombs, M-80 salutes and larger firecrackers containing more than two grains of powder. Also banned are mail-order kits designed to build these fireworks.

In a regulation that went into effect December 6, 1976, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission lowered the permissible charge in firecrackers to no more than 50 milligrams of powder. In addition, these amended regulations provide performance specifications for fireworks other than firecrackers intended for consumer use, including a requirement that fuses burn at least 3 seconds, but no longer than 9 seconds. All fireworks must carry a warning label describing necessary safety precautions and instructions for safe use. The Commission has issued a performance requirement to reduce the risk of potentially dangerous tip-over of large multiple tube mine and shell devices. Tip-over of these devices has resulted in two fatalities. The new requirement went into effect on March 26, 1997.

If you or a loved one has been injured by a firework, contact a qualified attorney to help you determine your legal options.

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