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Fireworks carry risk of burn injury

Arizona's summer months bring warm nights, county fairs and Independence Day, meaning it is fireworks season. While many people enjoy watching fireworks displays, firework accidents can cause severe burn injuries. According to a study conducted by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, 11,400 people were injured and eight were killed in firework-related incidents in 2013. Over half of those injuries occurred within a month of July 4.

Children under the age of 5 had the highest rate of injury of all of the age groups represented in the study. One reason for the higher injury rate may be that adults feel more comfortable giving children devices like bottle rockets and sparklers, but these fairly common devices are not necessarily safe for children. Bottle rockets and sparklers alone caused more than 40 percent of the total injuries reported in the study, and sparklers burn at incredibly high temperatures, approximately 2,000 degrees.

Another major factor in the number of injuries related to fireworks may be the devices themselves. According to the CPSC, a sampling of imported fireworks was tested in 2013 to ensure compliance with federal regulations, but 33 percent failed. The most common violations reported were failure to meet fuse burn-time requirements and overloaded report composition. While the unsafe devices found were not released for sale, it is not possible for the CPSC to test every single firework, and an improperly made device can substantially increase the risk of injury.

Burn injuries can mean lengthy hospital stays for treatment, operations like skin grafts, an increased risk of infection, long-term rehabilitation and permanent scarring. When an injury is caused by the negligence of another party, a civil suit may be possible to seek compensation that can help with expenses and time off work.

Source: Government Security News, "CPSC reports increase in fireworks-related deaths and injuries in 2013," June 30, 2014

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