Multiagency effort to remind New Yorkers of dangers of fireworks, with injuries on the rise
√ Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services recommends prioritizing fire safety if handling legal sparkling devices; agency recommends New Yorkers attend public fireworks displays to avoid injury or unwanted fires
√ DCP, New York State Department of Health recommend food & water safety tips
Gov. Kathy Hochul reminds New Yorkers the July 4 weekend typically sees a rise in sparkling device and firework-related injuries. Food-borne illnesses and water accidents are also more prevalent during the holiday time. Three state agencies offer their expertise to remind of the dangers to make for a safer, more enjoyable time for all.
"July 4th is a special time to gather and spend time with your loved ones and friends," Hochul said. "While celebrating Independence Day, I encourage everyone to follow these tips and to enjoy the holiday weekend. Please stay safe from the preventable: Stay away from dangerous fireworks, exercise caution around water, and don't let food poisoning ruin your weekend."
A press release stated, “The New York Department of State's Division of Consumer Protection, along with the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services' office of fire prevention and control (OFPC) and the New York State Department of Health are reminding New Yorkers to keep safe while celebrating Independence Day. Every year thousands of people – most of them children, teens and young adults – are injured while using fireworks and sparkling devices, and most of these injuries happen in the weeks surrounding July 4th. Across the United States, at least 11 people died in incidents involving fireworks in 2022, and an estimated 10,200 people were injured, with the majority of them – 73% - occurring during the weeks before and after the July 4th holiday. A 2021 report from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission shows a 25% increase in fireworks-related injuries between 2006 and 2021.”
In New York state in 2021, there were 199 fireworks-related injury visits reported by emergency departments, with 142 of those visits reported between June 18 and July 18. Additionally, 24% of the visits during that time period were by patients 18 years of age or under. Injuries to both children and adults include eye and ear damage, burns, puncture wounds and permanent scarring.
Common causes of fireworks-related injuries are:
√ A fast-fuse firecracker explodes before it can be thrown.
√ A misguided rocket strikes a bystander.
√ A curious youngster goes to investigate why a firecracker "failed" to explode.
While avoiding the use of illegal fireworks is the best way to prevent injury, the department also recommends taking simple precautions while watching professional fireworks displays, including using earplugs to protect hearing, keeping a safe distance from the launch site, and leaving pets at home. If a pet is nervous around fireworks at home, consult a veterinarian for ways to protect and comfort him or her.
Fireworks – What's Legal & What's Not in New York State
√ Sale of sparkling devices by registered sellers from June 1 until July 5 annually. Sparkling devices are ground-based or handheld sparking devices that produce a shower of colored sparks or colored flame, crackling or whistling noise and smoke. They do not launch into the air.
√ Users must be 18 years or older to use sparkling devices.
•What's not legal:
√ The possession and use of sparkling devices in cities with populations of more than 1 million people and where prohibited by local law. This includes New York City and the following counties: Albany, Bronx, Columbia, Erie, Kings, Nassau, New York, Orange (prohibited in the cities of Middletown and Newburgh only), Queens, Richmond, Schenectady, Suffolk, Warren and Westchester. The list of counties that prohibit the sale and possession of sparkling devices is ever-changing; for compliance, check with the local county sheriff's office.
√ Fireworks, including firecrackers, bottle rockets, roman candles, spinners and aerial devices, are illegal statewide.
DCP and OFPC offered guidance to New Yorkers planning to use sparkling devices over the next week in celebration of the Fourth of July holiday:
√ Children and sparklers are a dangerous combination. Never allow young children to play with or ignite sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. This is hot enough to melt some metals.
√ Never throw or point sparkling devices toward people, animals, vehicles, structures or flammable materials. Always follow the instructions on the packaging.
√ Keep a supply of water close by as a precaution or keep an approved fire extinguisher nearby during a display.
√ Make sure the person lighting sparkling devices always wears eye protection.
√ Light only one sparkling device at a time and never attempt to relight "a dud."
√ Always use sparkling devices outdoors. Never light sparklers inside.
√ Store sparkling devices in a cool, dry place away from children and pets.
√ If you are impaired by alcohol, don't use sparkling devices.
√ Always wear eye protection when using sparkling devices.
√ Purchase sparkling devices and novelty devices from New York state registered retailers only.
Sales of sparkling devices by certified permanent and specialty retailers can only take place during the year from June 1 to July 5 and Dec. 26 to Jan. 2. Sales of sparkling devices by certified temporary stands or tents can only occur from June 20 to July 5 and Dec. 26 to Jan. 2.
A list of registered sparkling device vendors appears here.
OFPC also encourages parents and guardians to provide children and teens with nonflammable alternatives to sparkling devices, which can be found at many retail stores.
Suggested items include:
√ Glow sticks
√ Pipe cleaner "sparklers"
√ Fairy lights
√ LED items
New York State Secretary of State Robert J. Rodriguez said, "The Fourth of July brings families and friends together to celebrate and enjoy the summer weather, but it is also one of the holidays with the highest number of accidents. When celebrating Independence Day this year, we encourage New Yorkers to understand which consumer fireworks are legal in New York state and how to use them safely."
Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner Jackie Bray said, "Sparkling devices and illegal fireworks cause injuries and start unwanted fires every year. Put safety first while celebrating the holiday, and choose the safest and most spectacular option: Leave it to the professionals and attend the nearest public fireworks display."
New York State Fire Administrator James Cable said, "While New Yorkers will be enjoying the upcoming holiday with family and friends, adding fireworks and sparkling devices to the celebration can lead to unnecessary visits to the emergency room and increases the chance of starting an uncontrolled fire. Should you choose to use legal sparkling devices this weekend, we recommend taking extra precautions by prioritizing fire safety."
New York State Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald said, "A holiday celebration should not end with a trip to the emergency department. While it can be fun and entertaining to make noise and watch the colorful displays produced by fireworks, I encourage all New Yorkers to make the safe choice and enjoy professional public fireworks displays instead of putting themselves, their loves ones and friends, and their communities at risk with illegal personal fireworks."
The New York State Department of Health also reminds New Yorkers of food safety and water safety during our summer and holiday time.
It explained food safety is also a key component to ensuring an enjoyable holiday, and some proven food preparation routines can help prevent potentially serious illness or even death. Always wash hands after handling raw meat and before preparing or serving ready-to-eat food. Meat should be cooked to the proper temperature to avoid illness from germs such as E-coli and salmonella, which can be present in undercooked meats such as chicken and hamburger.
Hot outdoor temperatures can also impact the safety of perishable foods. Refrigerate perishable food within two hours. If the food is exposed to temperatures above 90°F, refrigerate it within one hour. The department's tips for food safety are available here, and recommendations for those planning a barbecue are available here.
The press release stated, “A day at the beach or in the pool can be a perfect way to enjoy summer and celebrate the holiday, as long as water safety is a priority. Each year, hundreds of New Yorkers drown or are hospitalized for severe injuries related to drowning. Some tips for safe swimming include never swimming alone, supervising children around water, avoiding drugs and alcohol while swimming, and learning basic swimming and water safety skills.”
Additional recommendations for water safety can be found here.
The New York State Division of Consumer Protection provides resources and education materials to consumers on product safety, as well as voluntary mediation services between consumers and businesses. The consumer assistance helpline 1-800-697-1220 is available from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays, excluding state holidays. Consumer complaints can be filed at any time at www.dos.ny.gov/consumer-protection.
The Office of Fire Prevention and Control delivers a wide breadth of services to firefighters, emergency responders, state and local government agencies, public and private colleges, and the citizens of New York. The office advances public safety through firefighter training, education, fire prevention, investigative, special operations and technical rescue programs.
The Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services provides leadership, coordination and support for efforts to prevent, protect against, prepare for, respond to, and recover from terrorism and other man-made and natural disasters, threats, fires and other emergencies. For more information, visit the DHSES Facebook page, follow @NYSDHSES on Twitter and Instagram, or visit dhses.ny.gov.