Small fireworksNever underestimate the power behind sparklers, bottle rockets and small firecrackers -- they sent 1,900 people to the hospital last year, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

The CPSC recently issued a safety alert and video and also released a 2010 death and injury report on fireworks in advance of the holiday weekend. The agency said 8,600 were hurt last year by fireworks -- 40% of whom were children younger than 15. And most of those hurt were injured in the 30 days around the Fourth of July. Three people died last year because of fireworks.

"From purchase to ignition, know how you and your family can stay safe and which fireworks are allowed in your state if fireworks are part of your July 4th celebration," CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum said in a statement. "Never assume that a fireworks device is safe based on its size, and never allow young children to play with or light fireworks. By knowing the dangers of all types of fireworks, consumers can prevent tragedies."The CPSC said consumers should follow all these fireworks' safety steps, including:

  • Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them.
  • Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.
  • Avoid buying fireworks packaged in brown paper -- that's often a sign the fireworks were made for professional displays and could pose a danger to consumers.
  • Always supervise fireworks activities, including sparklers, which burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees - hot enough to melt some metals.
  • Never lean over a firework when lighting the fuse and always back up after lighting fireworks.
  • Only light fireworks one at a time.
  • Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that didn't fire.
  • Never point or throw fireworks at someone.
  • Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy to douse any fire.
  • After fireworks have completely burned out, douse the spent device with plenty of water before throwing it away.

Last year, the CPSC implemented new procedures for checking the imports of fireworks. After finding about 43% of the samples it checked didn't comply with its procedures, it's working with authorities to better enforce the regulations. (Fortunately, last year's number is down from a 2009 report that showed that half of all samples included faulty fireworks.)

And if you have pets, don't let them outside or take them with you to your holiday celebrations. Instead, keep them at home in a quiet, sheltered space and away from the jarring boom of fireworks, said the Humane Society of the United States.

"Pets are family members, and it's understandable that people want to include them in their holiday plans," Adam Goldfarb, HSUS director of the Pets at Risk program, said in a statement. "However, most pets will be more comfortable staying at home."

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