The American traditions of parades, cookouts, and To help prevent incidents like these, the federal
fireworks help us celebrate the summer season, government, under the Federal Hazardous Sub-
especially our nation's birthday on the Fourth of stances Act, prohibits the sale of the most danger-
July. However, fireworks can turn a joyful ous types of fireworks to consumers. These banned
celebration into a painful memory when children fireworks include large reloadable mortar shells,
and adults are injured while using fireworks. cherry bombs, aerial bombs, M-80 salutes and
Although legal consumer fireworks that comply larger firecrackers containing more than two grains
with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety of powder. Also banned are mail-order kits de-
Commission (CPSC) regulations can be relatively signed to build these fireworks.
safe, all fireworks are hazardous and can cause
injury. Fireworks are classified as hazardous In a regulation that went into effect December 6,
substances under the Federal Hazardous 1976, the CPSC lowered the permissible charge in
Substances Act. Some fireworks, such as illegal firecrackers to no more than 50 milligrams of
firecracker type devices (M-80's, quarter sticks) powder. In addition, these amended regulations
and professional display fireworks, should never provide performance specifications for fireworks
be used or handled by consumers due to serious other than firecrackers intended for consumer use,
injuries and deaths that can and do occur. including a requirement that fuses burn at least 3
seconds, but no longer than 9 seconds. All
The following are examples of injuries from legal fireworks must carry a warning label describing
and illegal fireworks: necessary safety precautions and instructions for
In Wisconsin, a group of males ranging in age from
17 to 35 brought a 50 gallon metal barrel to the edge The Commission has issued a performance require-
of a river along with a sparkler bomb. One man put ment to reduce the risk of potentially dangerous tip-
the firework into the sand on the riverbank, and lit it.
A 17 and a 19 year-old male pushed the barrel over
over of large multiple tube mine and shell devices.
the top of the firework. The firework then exploded Tip-over of these devices has resulted in two
resulting in massive trauma to both men. The 17 fatalities.
year-old victim died at the scene and the 19 year-old
died later in a hospital emergency room. CPSC estimates that in 2008 about 7,000 people
were treated in hospital emergency rooms for
After attending a party, a 45 year old male lit a large injuries associated with fireworks. More than
round firecracker in his truck, intending to throw it
out the window. The lit firecracker hit the side of the half the injuries were burns and most of the
window and fell on the floor of the truck, where it injuries involved the hands, eyes, and legs.
exploded. The victim was admitted to the hospital for People ranging in age from 15 to 19 years old
surgery on a fractured pelvis. had the highest per capita injury rate among all
age groups. Fireworks should be used only with
Some friends of an 18 year old woman were extreme caution. Older children should be
launching bottle rockets. One bottle rocket went
closely supervised, and younger children should
sideways instead of up, striking her in the eye.
Following treatment at the emergency department, not be allowed to play with fireworks, including
the victim was transported to an eye hospital. The sparklers.
victim is unsure if her vision will completely recover.
Before using fireworks, make sure they are -- Observe local laws.
permitted in your state or local area. Many states
and local governments prohibit or limit consumer -- Never have any portion of your body directly
fireworks, formerly known as class C fireworks, over a firework while lighting.
which are common fireworks, and firecrackers
sold for consumer use. Consumer fireworks -- Don't experiment with homemade fireworks.
include shells and mortars, multiple tube devices,
Roman Candles, rockets, sparklers, firecrackers PARENTS SHOULD SUPERVISE THE
with no more than 50 milligrams of powder and ORDERING AND USE OF MAIL-ORDER "MAKE
novelty items such as snakes, airplanes, ground YOUR OWN" FIREWORK KITS AND
COMPONENTS. MAIL-ORDER KITS AND
spinners, helicopters, fountains, and party poppers.
COMPONENTS DESIGNED TO BUILD BANNED
FIREWORKS ARE PROHIBITED.
To help consumers use fireworks more safely, the
CPSC offers these recommendations: The following is a summary of state regulations as
of June 1, 2009.
--Do not allow young children to play with fire-
works under any circumstances. Sparklers, consid- I. STATES THAT ALLOW SOME OR ALL
ered by many the ideal "safe" firework for the TYPES OF CONSUMER FIREWORKS
young, burn at very high temperatures and can (formerly known as class C fireworks), AP-
easily ignite clothing. Children cannot understand PROVED BY ENFORCING AUTHORITY, OR
the danger involved and cannot act appropriately AS SPECIFIED IN LAW (39 states, District of
in case of emergency. Columbia and Puerto Rico):
--Older children should only be permitted to use Alabama Montana
fireworks under close adult supervision. Do not Alaska Nebraska
allow any running or horseplay. Arkansas New Hampshire
California New Mexico
-- Light fireworks outdoors in a clear area Colorado Nevada
away from houses, dry leaves or grass and Connecticut North Carolina
flammable materials. Florida North Dakota
-- Keep a bucket of water nearby for Hawaii Oregon
emergencies and for pouring on fireworks that Idaho Pennsylvania
don't go off. Indiana South Carolina
Kansas South Dakota
-- Do not try to relight or handle Kentucky Tennessee
malfunctioning fireworks. Douse and soak Louisiana Texas
them with water and throw them away. Maryland Utah
-- Be sure other people are out of range before Minnesota Washington
lighting fireworks. Mississippi West Virginia
-- Never ignite fireworks in a container, especially
a glass or metal container. (The District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, in
addition to the above states enforce the federal
-- Keep unused fireworks away from firing areas. regulations and applicable state restrictions.)
-- Store fireworks in a dry, cool place. Check
instructions for special storage directions.
II. STATES THAT ALLOW ONLY SPAR-
KLERS AND/OR OTHER NOVELTIES
(total of 5 states):
III. STATES THAT ALLOW ONLY
NOVELTY FIREWORKS (total of 1 state):
IV. STATES THAT BAN ALL CONSUMER
FIREWORKS (including those which are
allowed by CPSC regulations) - (total of 5
Delaware New York
Massachusetts Rhode Island
To report a dangerous product or a product related
injury call CPSC's hotline at (800) 638-2772 or
CPSC's teletypewriter at (800) 638-8270. Con-
sumers can report product hazards to
Consumers can obtain releases and recall informa-
tion at CPSC's web site at www.cpsc.gov.
This document is in the public domain. It may be
reproduced in part or in whole
by an individual or organization without
permission. If it is reproduced, however, the
Commission would appreciate knowing how it is
used. Write to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety
Commission, Office of Information and Public
Affairs, Washington, D.C. 20207