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State official, fireworks company executive reinforce importance of safety

COVINGTON, Ga. — While fireworks-related injuries have declined nationally in recent years, Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner John F. King remains adamant in encouraging the public to celebrate the Fourth of July with safety in mind.

Last year was considered a record-breaking year in the U.S. with the greatest use of fireworks and the lowest fireworks-related injury rate since 1994, when such data was first recorded by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the American Fireworks Standards Laboratory (AFSL).

William Weimer, who is vice president of Phantom Fireworks — a founding member of AFSL — said from 1994 to 2021 there has been a 265% increase in fireworks usage by the public. Meanwhile, there has been a nearly 75% decrease in injuries per hundred thousand pounds of consumer fireworks used in the U.S.

“Truly incredible,” Weimer said in part of press release.

As injuries may be down, King said safety remains top priority on the Fourth of July.

“Independence Day is a time to celebrate the founding of our nation with friends and family,” he said. “Although celebrating with fireworks is a fun and time-honored tradition, it is important to remain cautious and follow certain safety tips to prevent accidental fires and severe injuries this holiday.”

Half of all fires reported on Independence Day result from fireworks, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Firework-related fires can result in significant injury, death, and millions in direct property damage, King said. 

An estimated 15,600 firework-related injuries occurred in 2020, King reported, with two-thirds of those in the four-week period around the Fourth of July. More than 2,000 emergency department-treated injuries were the result of small fireworks, such as sparklers and firecrackers.

When using fireworks this Fourth of July, King encouraged the public to practice the following safety tips:

• Always read the labels and follow directions for each specific type of firework

• Light fireworks outdoors and maintain a safe distance away from other people and fire hazards

• Never re-ignite malfunctioning fireworks

• Do not give fireworks to small children

• Avoid using illegal or homemade fireworks

• Have a garden hose or bucket of water nearby

• Submerge used and unused fireworks in water prior to discarding

• If injuries and damages do occur, call 911.