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Officials offer fireworks safety reminders

By Office of the Attorney General

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HARTFORD, CT - The Department of Consumer Protection and Office of the Attorney General are reminding consumers today, in advance of the Independence Day holiday, that Connecticut law prohibits the sale, possession or use of fireworks without a permit.

Roman candles, smoke bombs, firecrackers, snakes, skyrockets, Daygo bombs, and bottle rockets are examples of illegal fireworks. Sparklers and fountains, which produce sparks when lit, are not considered fireworks and are legal in Connecticut, but cannot be sold or used by anyone younger than 16.

“Each year at this time, emergency rooms across the country are filled with people who’ve been injured using fireworks,” Consumer Protection Commissioner William Rubenstein said. “Although they are not technically fireworks, sparklers and fountains may also cause injuries. For good reason, they may not be sold to or used by anyone younger than 16.”

Attorney General George Jepsen was Senate majority leader when state law was changed to exempt sparklers and fountains from the definition of fireworks. He said the public should have no trouble distinguishing them from illegal fireworks.

“If it explodes, it is not allowed to be sold in Connecticut or used without a permit,” Attorney General Jepsen said. “Firework displays should be left to professionals,” Jepsen said, “and those using sparklers or fountains should exercise caution to avoid injury or property damage.”

Earlier this week, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) released study findings on fireworks incidents (http://www.cpsc.gov/library/2011fwreport.pdf). It found that 65 percent of all fireworks injuries in 2011 occurred in the 30 days surrounding the Fourth of July. At least four consumers were killed last year by professional-grade or homemade fireworks, while an estimated 9,600 consumers were injured.

More than half the injuries were caused by unexpected ignition of the device, or fireworks not being used as intended. Injuries most often resulted in burns to the hands and head, including the eyes, face, and ears. Sparklers, firecrackers, and aerial devices were associated with the most incidents.

"Fireworks are not toys for children; sparklers are particularly known for causing accidental burns to youngsters,” Rubenstein said. “The Fourth of July is a great time to enjoy friends and family, so make plans to take in one of the many public fireworks displays across the state.”

Commissioner Rubenstein and Attorney General Jepsen join the CPSC in providing these additional safety tips.

· Only sparklers and fountains are legal in Connecticut. Possession of other items will subject you to the possibility of arrest and prosecution.

· The safest way to enjoy fireworks is at a public display conducted at a state-approved site by state-licensed pyro-technicians -- the Connecticut Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection has a list of 2012 events available online at: www.ct.gov/despp/lib/despp/public_information_files/fireworksdisplay2012.pdf

· Always have an adult closely supervise sparkers or fountains if older children are allowed to handle the devices.

· Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device.

· Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.

· Never try to relight or handle malfunctioning devices. Soak them with water and throw them away.

· Never point or throw sparklers or fountains at another person.

· Don’t handle spent devices until you have doused them with plenty of water from a bucket or hose.

The State Fire Marshal issues permits for supervised displays of fireworks. The Office of the State Fire Marshal is now in the Department of Construction Services. The Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection licenses fireworks displays, special effects, fireworks and special effects shooters, and fireworks distributors and manufacturers.

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