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How To Use Fireworks Safely

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Danny and his pals had made a really neat discovery. If they held a soda bottle in their hands and lit a bottle rocket inside it, they could use them like weapons.

They weren’t totally dumb, either. They put on their sunglasses so nobody would get hit in the eye. They should have worn a coat of armor, too, because it wasn’t long before two of the gang got hit in the face and were burned.

The pain was bad enough, but it went away. The scars on their skin will be there a long, long time.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, there are more than 10,000 emergency room cases related to fireworks each year. Sadder still, there are deaths.

Injuries from the intense heat of fireworks, typically harming the eyes, head, hands, arms or legs, can cause blindness, lacerations, amputations, and burns. Many of the injuries involve children under the age of 15. With the Fourth of July rapidly approaching, keep these things in mind:

Do Your Homework

* Check with your local police department to learn what, if any, fireworks may be legally discharged in your area.

* Display (Class B) fireworks are those used for public display. They are outlawed by the federal government for consumer use.

* Consumer (Class C) fireworks are legal for public sale in numerous states. These consumer fireworks include fountains, bottle rockets, cylindrical fountains, Roman candles, rockets with sticks, mines and shells, helicopter-type rockets, certain sparklers, party poppers, missile-type rockets, illuminating torches, toy smoke devices, revolving wheels and firecrackers with no more than 50 milligrams of powder.

* Remember! Even fireworks that are legal cause hundreds of blinding injuries each year. For example, bottle rockets can move as fast as 200 miles per hour, explode in midair and fly in any direction. What’s safe about that?

* Find a safe and legal fireworks display conducted by licensed professionals. Even then:
-stay in the designated watching area.
-do not allow children to retrieve a souvenir shell, even one that has exploded. Shell fragments could contain dangerous explosives.

Family Backyard Pyrotechnics

* If community ordinances allow fireworks, here are precautions to take when using them:

* Always read and follow the manufacturer’s directions.

* Store fireworks in a cool, dry area, hidden from children.

* Fireworks should only be lit outdoors on a smooth, flat surface, and away from structures and any flammable materials. Thousands of fireworks incidents cause millions of dollars in damage each year.

* Do not light fireworks inside a can or bottle.

* Don’t assume consumer fireworks are harmless. The heat from a sparkler (1,800 degrees F) can melt gold. Imagine the harm it can do to a child’s flesh or eye.

* Keep spectators at least 30 to 40 feet away before lighting fireworks. It is estimated that nearly 40 percent of fireworks injuries are to bystanders.

* Keep a water bucket or hose nearby for emergencies.

* Do not try to light a firework that misfired. Soak duds with water. Pick them up with a long-handled shovel, and put them in a nonflammable container.

* Wear hearing protection.

If The Kids Use Fireworks

* Only adults should handle fireworks. However, if you decide to let older children use fireworks under your supervision:

* Discuss safety procedures. Teach children to Stop, Drop, and Roll if their clothes catch fire.

* Show children how to put out fireworks by using water or a fire extinguisher.

* Never place your face or any other body part over fireworks.

* Never carry fireworks in your pocket.

* Leave the area immediately if friends are using fireworks without parental supervision.

* Do not dismantle fireworks, or try to make your own.

* Do not hold any fireworks in your hand once you have lit them.

* Do not throw fireworks.

John Myre is the author of the award-winning book, Live Safely in a Dangerous World, and the publisher of the Safety Times Reproducible Articles..

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