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Montgomery, Alabama

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Wendi Lewis
Wendi Lewis
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Play safe to avoid turning celebration to sorrow July 4

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A report released this week by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission says nearly 10,000 Americans were treated for fireworks-related injuries in 2007. Of that number more than half occurred within one month of the July 4 Independence Day holiday.

It probably comes as no surprise to most people, as fireworks and July 4 go hand-in-hand, but it is a good reminder to use extreme caution when choosing to launch your own fireworks display as opposed to leaving it to the professionals. The CPSC said the parts of the body most often injured are hands, eyes, and legs, and there appears to be an upward trend in injuries. Additionally, there were 11 deaths in 2007 as a result of fireworks injuries.

“No one should go from a backyard celebration to the emergency room with firework related injuries,” said CPSC Acting Chairman Nancy Nord. “Using only legal fireworks and using them correctly is an important step towards celebrating safely.”

It also is important to remember that many cities prohibit fireworks within city limits. This doesn’t seem to stop those intent on lighting up the sky over their own backyard, as the scream of bottle rockets and the flare of Roman candles is still a common sight in neighborhoods well within the city.

If you insist on your own celebration, follow these important safety tips from the CPSC:

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

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

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

* Adults should always supervise fireworks activities. Parents often don’t realize that there are many injuries from sparklers to children under five. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees – hot enough to melt some metals.

* Never have any portion of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Move back a safe distance immediately after lighting.

* Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not 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 back quickly.

* Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.

* After fireworks fully complete their functioning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding to prevent a trash fire.

For more information, read the full CPSC release online.