Every year around the Independence Day holiday, about 200 people are rushed to emergency rooms daily with fireworks-related injuries. These injuries can have a life-altering impact on people, including severe eye injuries, loss of limbs, and even death.
That's why DOT's Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration works closely with the Consumer Products Safety Commission; U.S. Customs and Border Protection; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Fireworks, and Explosives and the Department of Justice to enforce federal safety standards and raise awareness about the dangers of fireworks. It is absolutely imperative for us to come together to remind everyone about fireworks safety.
Yesterday, these partner agencies held their annual fireworks safety demonstration on the National Mall here in Washington, DC. And PHMSA Administrator Cynthia Quarterman was on hand to talk about DOT's role in preventing fireworks incidents.
Administrator Quarterman pointed out that, on any given day, there are about 1 million shipments of hazardous materials in the United States. And although the term hazardous materials may conjure images of mysterious chemicals stored in large yellow barrels, it also includes many consumer items...like fireworks.
As entertaining as they are, fireworks are first and foremost explosive materials. And when transportation-related fireworks accidents happen, they can have devastating consequences.
To remind fireworks shippers and carriers of the safety rules they need to follow, PHMSA has prepared simple guidelines to keep you and those around you safe. They also have a Call Center offering live, one-on-one assistance regarding hazmat rules. If you're a hazmat shipper with questions, I urge you to give us a call.
And if you are transporting fireworks for your own use in your own vehicle, please remember:
- Never attempt to light a firework or fuse while in your vehicle.
- Never smoke while handling fireworks – including loading or unloading them from your vehicle.
- Transport fireworks only in the trunk of your vehicle, not in the passenger compartment.
- Transport fireworks in a spark-proof container, such as a cardboard box.
- If you drive a van, or other vehicle without a trunk, keep fireworks out of direct sunlight.
Also, please remember that fireworks are not accepted aboard commercial airliners whether in checked or carry-on bags.
America has much to celebrate on Independence Day. This year, let's add safety to the list.