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Celebrate an injury-free Independence Day | Families

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Celebrate an injury-free Independence Day
Families, Health, Style
Celebrate an injury-free Independence Day

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Fireworks stands across the state are starting to do big business as Arkansans prepare to celebrate the Independence Day weekend.

Because Attorney General Dustin McDaniel hopes everyone has a safe and happy holiday, he issued these safety tips to remind Arkansans about state laws concerning fireworks. “While fireworks are a traditional part of Fourth of July festivities for many families, they can be dangerous if not used properly,” McDaniel said.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, three people were killed and an estimated 8,600 others injured in fireworks-related incidents in 2010, with 40 percent of those suffering injuries being children 15 years old or younger.

More than half the injuries – most often burns or lacerations to the hands, fingers and legs -- came from firecrackers, sparklers and bottle rockets.

Arkansas’s “Fireworks Act,” which controls the sale and use of fireworks, requires sellers to obtain a license and follow other requirements in order to sell fireworks legally in the state.  Permits are issued for several levels of sales, but no licenses are approved for anyone under age 21.  In some instances, the law prohibits sales. For instance, fireworks may not be sold to children under the age of 12 or to persons who are intoxicated.

The law also requires that only fireworks designated as Class C are permitted for use.  This includes Roman candles, skyrockets, helicopter-type rockets, cylindrical fountains, cone fountains, wheels, illuminating torches, mines and shells, firecrackers and salutes.  However, these items are restricted according to the amount of explosives they contain.  All fireworks must be labeled with the words: “I.C.C. Class C Common fireworks.”  Non-exploding items, such as cones, bottle, tube or other serpentine pop-off novelties, nonpoisonous toy snakes, smoke sticks without report, and sparklers may be sold at any time.

Legally purchased fireworks can be as much of a safety threat as those that are prohibited in Arkansas. Children are especially vulnerable. Most fireworks injuries occur to young people under age 20. The best way for families to stay safe is to enjoy the professional fireworks displays taking place across the state over the holiday weekend rather than hold a private event in an enclosed space.

If you do choose to handle any fireworks this holiday, here are some tips to follow in order to reduce the risk of injury.

  • Buy from properly state-licensed sellers.
  • Always read and follow label directions.
  • Use outdoors only.
  • Make sure children have adult supervision, or, better yet, let adults light all fireworks.
  • Always have water handy (a garden hose and a bucket).
  • Light only one firework at a time.
  • Never re-light a "dud" firework (wait 15 to 20 minutes and soak it in a bucket of water).
  • Dispose of fireworks properly by soaking them in water and then disposing in a trash can.
  • Never throw or point fireworks at other people.
  • Never shoot fireworks in metal or glass containers.
  • Wear eye protection (even onlookers, especially children).
  • Never have any part of the body over the firework.
  • Be aware of current “burn bans” by visiting the Arkansas Forestry Commission’s fire information site at http://www.arkfireinfo.org/index.php?do:showBurnBans.

By taking simple safety measures, Arkansans can enjoy their holiday with family and friends. For more information, contact the Public Protection Department of the Attorney General's Office at (501) 682-2341, (800) 482-8982 or online at www.ArkansasAG.gov.

Families, Health, Style