Fireworks tragedy spurs July 4 safety campaign

The family of a young boy killed by an errant consumer firework is sharing their story through an online video in an effort to prevent similar tragedies from occurring during this year’s Independence Day celebrations.

In partnership with the Alliance to Stop Consumer Fireworks and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the parents and sister of Michael Shannon are encouraging families to leave fireworks shows to the professionals.

“What we found is that there is no safe way to use consumer fireworks without a substantial risk,” says Robin Shannon, Michael’s mother, in the video.

Michael was killed when a legal consumer firework tipped over during a family July 4th celebration in 1991. The firework struck three-year-old Michael in the head while he stood between his father’s legs. They were more than 40 feet away from the fireworks when the tragedy occurred.

“If this video helps to save one child, one family, from the pain that we’ve experienced, that will be enough,” says Robin. After Michael’s death, the particular firework device involved was taken off the market, but similar devices remain available.

In 2005, 10,800 people were treated at hospital emergency rooms for fireworks-related injuries, according to a recent report from the NFPA, which founded the Alliance to Stop Consumer Fireworks five years ago with the American Academy of Pediatrics.

More than half (54 percent) of 2005 fireworks injuries were burns, according to the NFPA report. Approximately 29 percent of the injuries were contusions or lacerations. Fireworks also cause approximately 25,000 grass, brush, dumpster and other fires each year.

“Families need to understand the risks involved with using even legal consumer fireworks,” says James M. Shannon (no relation), president and CEO of NFPA. “Consumer fireworks hurt many thousands of people and cause thousands of structural and vehicle fires. This year’s severe nationwide drought raises additional fire risks.”

“Year after year we stand with physicians, firefighters, and fireworks victims, sounding warnings. But injuries continue to occur,” said James Shannon. “The willingness of Michael Shannon’s family to share their experience is truly admirable and may finally lead parents to think twice about home-grown fireworks shows.”

NFPA has been a worldwide leader in providing fire, electrical, building, and life safety to the public since 1896. The mission of the international nonprofit organization is to reduce the worldwide burden of fire and other hazards on the quality of life by providing and advocating consensus codes and standards, research, training and education. Visit NFPA’s Web site at www.nfpa.org.

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