Prevent Blindness Iowa Working to Save Sight and Lives by Educating Public, Lawmakers on Dangers of Consumer Fireworks

Injuries from fireworks accounted for 10,500 visits to emergency rooms in 2014, according to the latest data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).  And, eleven non-occupational fireworks-related deaths occurred in that same year as well.

The data also showed that 19 percent of fireworks-related injuries were to the eyes.  Burns were the most common injury to all parts of the body, except the eyes, where contusions, lacerations, and foreign bodies in the eyes occurred more frequently.

Fireworks laws vary from state to state and sometimes, within different counties.  According to the American Pyrotechnics Association, 47 states plus the District of Columbia allow some or all types of consumer fireworks. Only Delaware, Massachusetts, and New Jersey ban all consumer fireworks.

However, despite warnings from fire, law enforcement, medical groups and other public safety officials, some states are trying to legalize them, citing the benefit of sales taxes and fees that could be generated. In fact, Iowa, along with Ohio, Georgia, North Carolina and Illinois was among the states where legislation was introduced in the past year to expand consumer grade firework (aka as 1.4G fireworks) usage within the state. 

There is no such thing as ‘safe-and-sane’ fireworks, and any tax revenue that may be generated from the sale of fireworks won’t make up for the costs in damages, specifically in terms of medical responses and treatment. Nearly half of all injuries are suffered by innocent bystanders who chose not to use fireworks, but are paying the price of the risky behavior of others, many times complete strangers.

Prevent Blindness Iowa supports the development and enforcement of bans on the importation, sale and use of all fireworks and sparklers, except those used in authorized public displays by competent licensed operators. We work with leading organizations to educate the public on the dangers of consumer fireworks and endorses legislation to help protect adults and children from needless injuries from fireworks. 

As part of our official position statement, Prevent Blindness Iowa further supports the following:

•      All state governments should adopt a uniform model law that would establish standards and codes for public fireworks displays conducted under controlled conditions by trained and licensed personnel.

•      The importation, general sale and indiscriminate use of all fireworks (including consumer fireworks and sparklers) by unlicensed adults and children should be banned. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission should work to ban the use of consumer fireworks and sparklers by the public.

•      Federal agencies should enact and/or rigidly enforce regulations prohibiting the importation, Internet/mail order and interstate transportation of consumer fireworks and sparklers.

•      Healthcare practitioners and local authorities should be required to report any fireworks or sparkler-related injuries, property damages and deaths. Injuries and incidents can be reported to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission by calling 800.638.2772 or filing a report on their website, http://www.cpsc.gov/.

Prevent Blindness Iowa continues to work with state legislators  to educate them about the risk of consumer fireworks and will continue to work against legislation that increases the risk of injury from fireworks, especially for children.

For more information on the dangers of fireworks, please call Prevent Blindness Iowa at 515-244-4341, or go to preventblindness.org/prevent-eye-injuries-fireworks.