Don't Let Fireworks Make You a July 4th Statistic
Washington, DC - Fireworks are as American as baseball
and apple pie. Unfortunately, unsafe fireworks can cause injuries and
even death. "Our nation's citizens need to understand the grave consequences
that can result from the illegal and improper use of fireworks,"
according to Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) Director Brad
ATF particularly wants consumers to know the dangers of illegal fireworks
- fireworks that are banned federally in every State regardless of varying
State safety statutes. These illegal fireworks include cherry bombs, M-80s,
M-1000s, silver salutes and larger firecrackers containing more than two
grains of powder. Mail-order kits designed to build these fireworks are
The sale of these products to American consumers is prohibited under
the Federal Hazardous Substances Act. These kinds of explosive devices
that are represented as "fireworks" are, in fact, small bombs.
The manufacturing of these illegal fireworks can result in federal felony
and misdemeanor charges, as well as time in federal prison.
ATF recommends that you first recognize that all fireworks present a
risk to people and property, but stresses that you should never buy or
handle items with names like "M-80," "M-100," "ashcan,"
"quarter-stick," and "half-stick." These are illegal
explosive devices - not fireworks - and may explode without warning, causing
injury or death.
Also be aware that explosive pest control devices, known as "bird
bombs," may be offered for sale as mock M-80 type devices. You should
know that these devices may be legal, but contain explosive materials
and may only be purchased from a Federally-licensed dealer and used only
for legitimate pest and wildlife control. They should not be used as substitutes
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) regulates consumer fireworks,
also known as Class C, or "common," fireworks, which are legal
in some states. The CPSC reported that more than 11,000 persons were treated
in hospital emergency rooms for injuries attributed to fireworks during
the year 2000. Far too often, the injuries involve children. In the United
States, about 44 percent of all fireworks-related injuries are
suffered by children ages 5 to 9.
Sadly, for last year, these injury figures are estimated to be even higher
-- and those injuries typically resulted from using regulated fireworks.
The potential for harm with illegal, unregulated fireworks rises exponentially,
because they are more powerful, and because they meet neither safety nor
quality standards. Heat, shock or pressure can trigger accidental detonation.
ATF Director Buckles stresses that ATF regards "counterfeit fireworks"
as totally unpredictable. "They can seem innocent, then go off in
your face," he warns.
In the next few days, illegal traffickers in explosives will make sales
pitches to anyone who will listen. You can make a difference, though.
First, refuse to buy these devices. Then, you can help expose these traffickers
and protect your neighbors by calling the local ATF office or by using
ATF's nationwide toll-free number: 1-888-ATF-BOMB. According to Director
Buckles, "Be responsible. Don't let the mark of a great day in American
history become a sad day in your family's history."
On a related note, we are all anticipating the first Independence Day
celebration since the terrorist attacks of September 11. We believe that
this should be a proud and enjoyable day -- a day to pour out our feelings
on this most important of national holidays. At the same time, we recognize
that July 4th is a highly symbolic time, and there are some who may wish
to turn a joyous celebration of freedom into a day of destruction and
fear. Please be alert to any suspicious activity involving illegal fireworks
or explosives, and once again, you may take advantage of ATF's toll-free
For more information on ATF, visit ATF's Web site at www.atf.treas.gov.
You may especially want to check under the heading, "Explosives,
Bomb Threats, and Detection Resources."