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Agencies urge firework safety

As Independence Day approaches, national agencies are reminder patriotic Americans to keep safety in mind as they prepare their celebrations. Safety facts are vital when it comes to perhaps the most notable elements of a Fourth of July celebration: the fireworks.

“Remember, fireworks can be dangerous, causing serious burn and eye injuries,” reminds the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. “You can help us prevent fireworks-related injuries and deaths.”

According to the CPSC and the National Fire Protection Association, fireworks started an estimated 19,500 fires in 2018, including 1,900 structure fires, 500 vehicle fires and 17,100 outside and other fires. These fires caused five deaths, 46 civilian injuries and $105 million in direct property damage.

In 2018 U.S. hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 9,100 people for firework-related injuries; half of those injuries were to the extremities, and 34 percent were to the eye or other parts of the head. 

Children younger than 15 accounted for more than one-third 36 percent, of the estimated 2018 injuries, according to the statistics reported. 

The CPSC recommends these safety tips when using fireworks: 

  • 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 the fireworks were made for professional displays and could pose a danger to consumers.
  • Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities. Parents often don’t realize 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.

The NFPA also has some ideas for showing American pride and a celebratory spirit without the use of fireworks:

  • Try using glow sticks as a safe alternative to sparklers.
  • Noisemakers, available at party supply stores, can provide a literal bang for your buck.
  • Celebrate America with an outdoor movie night, patriotic craft, USA birthday party or other fun family activity.
  • Amp up the fun with red and blue silly string.

While fireworks are available for sale across the county, local authorities also recommend celebrating safely by attending a professional show, such as Jam at Sloss Lake in Russellville, set for Sunday afternoon and complete with a slate of live music as well as the firework finisher.