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Fireworks—Preventing Injuries and Death this 4th of July

fireworks 300KENTUCKY (7/4/13)—Fireworks are a mainstay of Independence Day and 4th of July celebrations all over the United States. On the flipside, however, they are also responsible for emergency room injuries and, in some cases, deaths. Couple this data with the fact that House Bill 333 (signed in 2011) allows Kentucky businesses to sell a full line of fireworks to consumers—including longtime favorites such as Roman candles and mortar blasts—and the potential for serious injuries are a definite possibility both across the country and in our local communities. Yet, does this mean we should all shy away from the longstanding and honorary holiday institution of blasting off a couple bangs and booms? The answer is “No” as long as you take the proper precautions.

“Fireworks can be a fun way to celebrate and add to the festivity of the holiday, but don’t forget injury prevention,” said Kentucky’s Department for Public Health (DPH) Commissioner William Hacker in a previous release. “The types of fireworks that can be legally sold in Kentucky have expanded and some might be new to consumers. Make sure you know how to properly use these items and are working to avoid injury.”

“Although fireworks play a major role in Fourth of July celebrations, you have to keep public safety in mind—even with smaller items,” added KYDPH Director of Public Health, Protection, and Safety Division, Kathy Fowler, in the same aforementioned release. “Firecrackers, bottle rockets, and sparklers are some of the biggest culprits of injury. Please use caution if you are using these items.”

In keeping with this, it’s important to note that even what some might consider harmless—the traditional sparkler—can reach temperatures comparable to a blow torch and can burn skin and ignite clothing.

So what are the best ways to remain safe when using fireworks such as sparklers and beyond?

A list of safety tips and precautions courtesy of the CPSC, is below:

• Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.
• Avoid buying fireworks that are packaged in brown paper because this is often a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays and that they could pose a danger to consumers.
• Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities. Parents don't realize that young children suffer injuries from sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees - hot enough to melt some metals.
• Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.
• Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully.
• Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
• Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.
• Light fireworks one at a time, then move back quickly.
• Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.
• After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding it to prevent a trash fire.
• Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them.

As approximately 40% of those injured by fireworks each year are under the age of 15, CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum states that people should “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 most common injuries sustained include burns and lacerations to the hands, face, and head.

Fire safety and control is also a definite must when using fireworks. As noted above, always make sure to keep water on-hand in case of a fire and douse all spent devices if possible.

More tips, news, and Fourth of July/fireworks reports, can be found via the CPSC by clicking here.

SurfKY News
Information provided by the KY Department for Health and Family Services and US Consumer Product and Safety Commission

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