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June 27, 2012

LITTLE ROCK -- Fireworks can be an enjoyable way to celebrate Independence Day, but Arkansans should consider the safety risks before lighting fireworks. Not only can fireworks cause injuries, but this year most of Arkansas is experiencing drought conditions and the danger of wildfires is high.

With the holiday nearing, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel today issued this consumer alert to offer safety tips and remind consumers of state law regarding fireworks in the hopes every Arkansan has a safe and happy Fourth of July.

"There are simple precautions that anyone who chooses to light their own fireworks should take in order to have a happy and safe Independence Day," McDaniel said. "This year, especially, Arkansans should use caution when using fireworks because of the drought conditions in the state."

According to the Arkansas Forestry Commission, two-thirds of Arkansas counties have burn bans in place and the entire state is under a high danger of wildfire. To see which counties have imposed burn bans, visit McDaniel said consumers should call their city or county offices if they are unsure whether fireworks are permitted in their municipalities.

McDaniel said Arkansans may choose to enjoy professional fireworks displays that typically take place in locations statewide rather than hold a private event in an enclosed space.

In the United States last year, four people died and approximately 9,600 people suffered injuries that required hospitalization due to accidents involving fireworks, according to the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission. Children under the age of 15 account for one-third of all fireworks-related injuries.

The state's "Fireworks Act" regulates the sale of fireworks. Vendors must obtain a state license and follow certain restrictions. Local laws may also apply. Additionally, fireworks cannot be sold to those under the age of 12 or to anyone who appears to be intoxicated.

Only "Class C" fireworks are permitted for use. These types of fireworks include Roman candles, skyrockets, helicopter-type rockets, cylindrical fountains, cone fountains, wheels, illuminating torches, mines and shells, firecrackers and salutes. There are restrictions on the amount of explosives they can contain and each product must be labeled "I.C.C. Class C Common fireworks." Non-exploding items, such as cones, bottle, tube or other serpentine pop-off novelties, nonpoisonous toy snakes, smoke sticks without report, and sparklers may be sold at any time.

For consumers who choose to handle fireworks this holiday, McDaniel offered these safety tips:

• Only buy from vendors with a proper state license.
• Always read and follow label directions.
• Only use fireworks outdoors.
• Make sure children are properly supervised and that adults light all fireworks.
• Always have water available (a garden hose and a bucket).
• Only light one firework at a time.
• Make sure that you are a safe distance from others before lighting fireworks and never aim fireworks at other people.
• Never shoot fireworks in metal or glass containers.
• Eye protection should be worn by the person lighting the firework as well as by onlookers.
• Properly dispose of fireworks by soaking them in water before throwing them away.
• Never re-light a "dud" firework.

For more information on this or other consumer matters, visit the Consumer Protection Division's website, or call the Attorney General's consumer hotline at (501) 682-2341 or (800) 482-8982.