'Think Twice' Before Shooting Off Fireworks, Senator Oppenheimer Says

Suzi Oppenheimer

June 24, 2008

Reminds families that the use of consumer fireworks is illegal in New York State

While Fourth of July festivities and fireworks would seem to go hand in hand,State Senator Suzi Oppenheimer (D-Mamaroneck) today reminded residents that the use of all consumer fireworks is illegal in New York State. The safest way to enjoy fireworks, she said, is through a community event where trained professionals handle them.

"By all rights, a warning about the dangers of consumer fireworks should be unnecessary, given the fact that they are illegal in our state," Senator Oppenheimer said. "However, I recognize that many New Yorkers either don’t know about the law or choose to overlook it. For those residents, a warning of this nature makes good sense."

According to the New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control (OFPC), thousands of people are treated in emergency rooms for fireworks-related injuries, many of them children under the age of 15. The most common injuries affect the hands and fingers, eyes, face and head. Over half of the injuries are burns.

Senator Oppenheimer noted that fireworks-related injuries can be serious, leading to third degree burns, blindness and permanent scarring. Fireworks may also cause residential and motor vehicle fires.

"Children are naturally curious and can get excited around fireworks, increasing their chances of getting hurt," the Westchester lawmaker noted. "While some parents assume, for instance, that sparklers are relatively harmless, temperatures can reach more than 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit. They’re not toys. Don’t let children play with fireworks - period.

OFPC states that sparklers were associated with more than half of the estimated injuries for children under 5 years of age.

"This summer season, and especially on our nation’s birthday, let’s make safety a top priority," Senator Oppenheimer said. "Leave fireworks in the hands of pyrotechnic professionals, then sit back and enjoy your holiday."