---- — Lots of folks will be celebrating the Fourth of July in coming days by shooting off fireworks. We’d like to offer a few words of caution.
Fireworks are not toys. Handled carelessly, they can cause serious burns and eye injuries.
According to a report from the National Fire Protection Association, injuries from fireworks increased from 8,800 in 2002 to 9,600 in 2011.
Children under the age of 15 suffered 26 percent of all injuries from fireworks in 2011.
Two years ago, 8 out of 9 emergency room fireworks injuries involved those that federal law permits consumers to use. Sparklers, fountains and novelties alone accounted for a third of emergency room fireworks injuries.
Fireworks caused about 17,800 fires in 2011, resulting in $32 million in property loss and 40 injuries.
On a typical Fourth of July, fireworks account for 2 out of 5 of all reported fires.
Clearly, the safest way to enjoy fireworks is through public displays conducted by professionals. Still, if you decide to try putting on your own show, use common sense.
Never allow children to play with or ignite fireworks. Even sparklers can be dangerous in the hands of a child younger than 12.
Read and follow all warnings and instructions.
Have a designated shooter, and be sure everyone else is out of range.
Light fireworks only on a smooth, flat surface away from the house and away from any combustible materials.
Always wear safety goggles.
If a firework fails to ignite, wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water before throwing it away. Never try to relight a dud.
Always have a hose or buckets of water close by.
Use fireworks only as they were intended to be used. Don’t try to alter them or combine them.
Never use homemade fireworks or illegal explosives. They can be deadly.
Alcohol and fireworks do not mix.
Have a safe and happy Fourth of July.