Be safe with fireworks on Fourth

Published 9:35 am Wednesday, July 1, 2009

On Saturday people across the country will come together to celebrate the nation’s Independence Day. The Fourth of July is a time for recognizing, not only the founding of our country, but also those many soldiers who are still fighting abroad so that we might remain free from terror and oppression.

The Greenville Area Chamber of Commerce is hosting its annual Celebrate America on Friday night at 6:30 p.m. at Tiger Stadium. The event will culminate in a traditional fireworks show, lighting up the nighttime sky for miles around. Everyone is encouraged to come out and participate.

Fireworks have also become an annual part of family celebrations, but the Alabama Department of Public Health is encouraging individuals to be cautious when dealing with fireworks. In 2007, U.S. hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 9,800 people for fireworks-related injuries, according to the ADPH, and of these injuries 56 percent were injuries to extremities while 36 percent were to the head.

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Here are some safety tips to follow with fireworks:

– The best way to prevent fireworks-related injuries is to leave fireworks displays to the trained professionals. But for those who participate, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and the National Council on Fireworks Safety have issued these tips:

– Do not let children under 14 use fireworks.

– Supervise individuals under age 18.

– Only buy from reliable fireworks sellers; read and follow all the warnings and instructions.

– Use fireworks outdoors only; keep them away from houses and flammable materials.

– Have a bucket of water nearby.

– Do NOT try to re-light or handle malfunctioning fireworks. Soak them in water and throw them away.

– Be sure other people are a safe distance away before lighting fireworks.

– Never ignite fireworks in a container — especially a glass or metal one.

– Store fireworks in a cool, dry place according to their specific storage instructions.

– Never experiment or attempt to make your own fireworks.

– Do not wear loose clothing near a fire or while using fireworks.

– Rockets should be launched from a rocket launcher not a bottle.

– Sparklers need to be handled carefully too: they burn at more than 1,000 degrees F.

– Light them one at a time at arm’s length. Always wear gloves while holding a sparkler, and never give one to a child under 5 years of age.

– Educate children (of all ages) about the dangers of fireworks and teach them to practice safety at all times.