Good morning. Thank you for joining us on the National Mall for our fireworks safety event—an annual tradition that we put together each year to help all Americans celebrate the Fourth of July safely.
I am Inez Tenenbaum, Chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and I’m pleased to be joined once again by Dan Baldwin from the Department of Homeland Security and Arthur Herbert from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
CPSC’s partnership with law enforcement and homeland security has been one of the keys to our success—success in stopping many of the importers, manufacturers and distributors of dangerous fireworks.
Now our focus this year is on the risks posed by fireworks big and small—risks that should cause adults to use caution every time a firework is lit, and risks that should cause the children to be kept away.
The numbers speak to the importance of our message today. There are more than 60 injuries each day involving small fireworks like sparklers, bottle rockets and small firecrackers, during the month surrounding the holiday.
And, like last year, the numbers show that there are more than 200 injuries each day involving all types of fireworks during the month surrounding July 4th.
As we will demonstrate for all of you today, many of the injuries can be life-altering. It is my hope that I will be able to stand here next year and report a significant decline in injuries. That was not the case last year.
But, if the public uses the legal fireworks safely and stays away from the illegal ones, we can make this the year that everyone “puts safety in play during the Fourth of July.”
“Putting safety in play” means keeping the sparklers, which can burn at 2000 degrees just like a blow torch, out of the hands of young children, and creating a safety zone if you are going to ignite firecrackers or aerials.
For families that plan to experience fireworks from the backyard, instead of the local fairground or school, our message is clear: never allow children to play with or be around them unsupervised, and adults should use caution when setting them off.
Consumers should never assume that a fireworks device is safe based on its size. By knowing the dangers of all types of fireworks, consumers can prevent tragedies.
Even though we hold this event each and every year, there are still those who believe that making a sparkler bomb or mixing chemicals or aiming a bottle rocket at their friend, will do no harm.
We are going to show you just how serious and even deadly it can be to not use fireworks safely.
We’ll show you how some of the estimated 8,600 consumers ended up in emergency rooms in 2010 with fireworks related injuries.
We’ll show the power of improperly using illegal fireworks, like M80s, M1000s, and professional fireworks.
The message on illegal and professional fireworks is crystal clear:
don’t make them,
don’t purchase them,
and don’t go near them.
We also have a new demonstration this year involving fuseless firecrackers, which have been referred to as adult snappers. These products have raised a red flag for CPSC and we have warned the industry that they should be labeled and treated as powerful firecrackers.
I want the public to know that the federal government—your federal government—is working together to keep illegal fireworks out of the country, to catch those who bring them in, and to make sure consumer fireworks meet U.S. safety rules.
Across the federal government, our coordinated, proactive efforts are aimed at saving lives and keeping consumers celebrating and playing with the family during Independence Day—and not ending up in the hospital.
From purchase to ignition, consumers also need to know which fireworks are allowed or not allowed in their state.
And just because the law allows you to use consumers fireworks that doesn’t mean you do not have any responsibilities.
As you light a firework, keep in mind your responsibility to keep yourself, your family, and those around you safe.
have a bucket of water or a garden hose on hand;
never relight or pick up a firework that didn’t go off;
light one at a time, on a flat, dry surface; and
never have your body over the device as you are lighting the fuse.
The Fourth of July is such a wonderful time of year. Whether you are heading out to watch the brilliant display of fireworks at a community event or celebrating in the backyard—put safety in play.
Before I close my remarks this morning, I want to say a few words about an emerging safety issue this summer: gel fuels and firepots. These products have been in the news lately, but I am concerned that there could still be unsuspecting families unfamiliar with the dangers with these products.
I want the public to know that if certain gel fuels are poured into an already lit or hot fuel pots, the result could be deadly. People report that, at times, the flame from this product is nearly invisible.
There is a young boy fighting for his life in New York, there are husbands and wives suffering from terrible burns injuries in the Midwest and down south—these injuries are the result of gel fuel that splatters or causes a flash back fire when it is refilled in a fire pot.
When this jelly like fuel catches on fire, “stop, drop and roll” or dousing the flames with water may not work. The flames can be difficult to extinguish and can spread from person to person or to other property.
This is a very serious hazard and using a dry chemical fire extinguisher is one of the only sure ways to put out the flames.
We are going to demonstrate this danger for you today and show you why CPSC is working night and day to get certain pourable gel fuels off the market and prevent additional burn injuries.
Once again, I urge all consumers to never refill an already lit or hot fuel pot with gel fuel.