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Exercise caution with fireworks

It’s America’s birthday weekend. Watermelon, cook-outs, corn on the cob are on many menus. So are fireworks. Bigger, brighter and louder are better – as long as you’re watching an organized display.

But in your hands, even legal consumer fireworks can be dangerous.

The National Council on Fireworks Safety estimates that 8,800 people suffered injuries caused by fireworks in 2002.

These aren’t all due to M-80s, M-100s and blockbusters that have been federally banned since 1966.

The following are examples of injuries from legal and illegal fireworks. These are taken off the web site keepkidshealthy.com:

A 33-year-old man was setting off mortar-style fireworks out of a black plastic pipe while in his backyard. As he leaned over one of the tubes and lit the fuse, the fireworks immediately went off, striking him in the face. He later died from head injuries.

A 6-inch fountain that shot colored fireballs injured a 4-year-old girl. When the fountain tipped over, the victim was struck in the chest by a fireball. She sustained second- and third-degree burns to her chest and neck. She was hospitalized for three weeks for burn treatment and skin grafts.

A 15-year-old male tied together the wires of 10 sparklers. The sparklers ignited quickly and burned down very fast, exploding in his hand. The victim sustained a five-inch long laceration to his hand and forearm. Also, debris from the explosion lodged in his hand and arm. The victim required plastic surgery, but has recovered.

The warnings are issued every year, but it takes just one spark – and millions of sparks will be ignited this weekend – for another example to be written.

Fireworks aren’t evil. We loved them as kids. They have a place in this holiday celebration. But let’s be careful out there.

Here are some tips, taken from the Seattle Post-Intelligence, to make sure we all enjoy July 5 and beyond:

Buy legal fireworks from reliable vendors and read labels carefully.

Always have adults present. Be aware of flammable surroundings and clean up debris afterward. Maintain a safe distance from fireworks and never relight.

Keep water at hand. Place used fireworks, including ones that did not go off properly, in the bucket before disposal.

Know your area’s emergency number beforehand.

With that in mind, have a safe weekend.