SEATTLE, Wash. -- Every year, Americans look forward to summer vacations, camping, family reunions, and picnics. As skies clear and weather turns warmer, Pacific Northwest residents are hoping for glorious weather this Fourth of July. But however the weather turns out, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) warn that careless handling of fireworks and outdoor grills can ruin parties and picnics ? and entire summers. Annually, just under 10,000 Americans are injured by fireworks and almost 5,000 are injured by charcoal/wood-burning and propane grill fires.
According to FEMA Administrator R. David Paulison, in 2007, 64 percent of fireworks injuries occurred between 22 June and 22 July. "When celebrating the Fourth of July, Americans need to remember to use fireworks, fires and barbecues with care," said Paulison. "Have fun, but be safe."
Susan Reinertson, FEMA Regional Administrator for Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington, agrees. "Fireworks account for a large number of preventable fires and injuries. The best way to enjoy them is to visit public displays held by trained professionals," said Reinertson. "Before cooking out or lighting fireworks, review fire safety precautions with your family. Summer holidays should be fun and create good memories, not pain and remorse."
Thousands of serious fireworks-related incidents typically injure eyes, heads and hands each year. Most of those injuries are inflicted on victims between one and 24 years of age. Sparklers, firecrackers, and bottle rockets are leading contributors to these injuries. Older children should be closely supervised. Younger children should not be allowed to play with fireworks.
FIREWORKS SAFETY TIPS from the FEMA and the U.S. Fire Administration:
If fireworks are legal where you live and you decide to set them off on your own, be sure to follow these important safety tips:
- Observe local laws.
- Keep a bucket of water handy in case of a malfunction or fire.
- Read and follow all warnings and instructions.
- Never allow children to play with or ignite fireworks. Sparklers, considered by many the ideal "safe" firework for the young, burn at very high temperatures and can easily ignite clothing. Children cannot understand the danger involved and cannot act appropriately in case of emergency.
- Be sure other people are out of range before lighting fireworks. Never shoot a firework at or near another person.
- Only light fireworks on a smooth, flat surface away from the house, dry leaves, and flammable materials.
- Never try to relight fireworks that have not fully functioned. Douse and soak them with water and throw them away.
- Never ignite fireworks in a container, especially a glass or metal container.
- Keep unused fireworks away from firing areas.
- Store fireworks in a dry, cool place. Check instructions for special storage directions.
- Never have any portion of your body directly over a firework while lighting.
- Don't experiment with homemade fireworks.
USFA, part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, serves the American public and the nation's fire services through training, data collection and analysis, public fire education, and fire protection technology research. For more information, visit: www.usfa.fema.gov.
FEMA's mission is to reduce the loss of life and property and to protect the Nation from all hazards, including natural disasters, acts of terrorism, and other man-made disasters, by leading and supporting the Nation in a risk-based, comprehensive emergency management system of preparedness, protection, response, recovery, and mitigation.