Family’s fireworks tragedy motivates July 4 safety outreach

Published on July 14, 2007

Watch the story of Michael Shannon, a three-year-old boy who was killed when a legal consumer firework struck him in the head during a July Fourth family celebration. Michael’s parents and sister talk about their memories of Michael, the pain they've endured in the years since his death, and their hope that parents will understand the danger of consumer fireworks.

Video campaign seeks to prevent fireworks accidents

June 14, 2007  The family of a young boy killed by an errant consumer firework is sharing their story through an on-line video in an effort to prevent similar tragedies from occurring during this year’s Independence Day celebrations.

In partnership with the Allianceto 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, which founded the Allianceto 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.

The Alliance to Stop Consumer Fireworks includes: National Fire Protection Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Family Physicians, American Academy of Ophthalmology, American Association for Hand Surgery, American Association of Public Health Physicians, American Burn Association, American College of Emergency Physicians, American Society of Plastic Surgeons, Center for Injury Research & Policy, Emergency Nurses Association, Fire Department Safety Officers Association, International Association of Arson Investigators, International Association of Fire Chiefs, International Association of Fire Fighters, International Fire Marshals Association, Metropolitan Fire Chiefs, National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners, National Association of School Nurses, National Association of State Fire Marshals, National Volunteer Fire Council, and Prevent Blindness America.

Contact: Lorraine Carli, Public Affairs Office: +1-617-984-7275