Families stock up on fireworks, focus on safety

Many people will celebrate the 4th of July by setting off personal fireworks. No one plans to mix the thrill of the big booms with painful burns and other serious injuries that can happen.

The hospital is busy around the holiday. The Consumer Product Safety Commission says an average of 240 people per day head to the ER when fireworks fun goes terribly wrong.

SEE ALSO: Fireworks safety tips

Also, illegal and homemade fireworks were involved in all eight fireworks-related deaths in 2013.

The spectacle of sparklers are fun, but they can burn at 2,000 degrees, that's hot enough to melt copper. The blast of some fireworks can blow off fingers. Experts warn families should use common sense for a safe 4th.

"I'm excited for all of the colors and the big noises," says Delilah Long. The 5-year-old understands that the fireworks she loves can be dangerous.

"You might get hurt, and you might have to go to the hospital and get bandages, and you don't want that to happen," she says.

Her dad Shane taught his daughter to read the directions before he lights up the fun.

"I'm safe. I do the right thing. I make sure everyone's backed away when I light it," he says.

Safety experts say if the firework doesn't ignite, don't try to relight a dud. That's what happened to Bruce Crisman from Nokomis in 2009. He lost fingers and joints.

"It didn't go off until I got too close to it, basically, and I was two feet away from it when it went off," Crisman says.

The most commonly injured body part? Cory Smoke from St. Petersburg knows. "Hands, definitely the hands. I've hurt my hands before... just little burns and stuff."

The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports hands and arms are injured most often by fireworks, followed by your head, face, ears, and eyes.

7-year-old Gabby Smoke insists it's hands-off for her. "I like to just stand back and watch," Gabby says.

Kids from the age of infancy to 19 account for half of the fireworks injuries. Adults age 25-44 are another third.

Men make up 57 percent of the people injured by fireworks. "They're more dangerous with fireworks," Maegen Metcalf says.

Little Delilah Long says the hospital isn't as fun as the big show. "You don't want to miss any of the fireworks."

The Consumer Product Safety Commission says sparklers, firecrackers and reloadable shells have proven to be most dangerous.

Here are some additional safety tips from the CPSC:

Ways fireworks can malfunction:

-Inconsistent flight paths

-Tip-over incidents

-Early or late ignitions

-Debris and blowouts

You, your friends, and family can be put at risk by:

-Purchasing and using illegal fireworks

-Letting children use fireworks, including sparklers and firecrackers

-Creating or modifying any fireworks

-Igniting fireworks too close to someone or something

-Setting off fireworks improperly

If you do decide to buy legal fireworks, be sure to take the following safety steps:

-Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.

-Avoid buying fireworks that come in brown paper packaging; often, this can often be a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays and could pose a danger to consumers.

-Never have any portion of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse.

-Move away to a safe distance immediately after lighting.

-Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not gone off or fully functioned.

-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 one item at a time, then move away quickly.

-After fireworks have gone off and fully functioned, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding, to prevent a trash fire.

-Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them.

Know the risks. Prevent the tragedies. And, have an injury-free Fourth!

image created by the CPSC


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