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Leave Fireworks to the Pros

Experts offer safety advice for the Fourth of July

THURSDAY, July 4, 2002 (HealthDayNews) -- Celebrate the Fourth of July safely this year by leaving the fireworks to the professionals.

That's what the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons suggests in a recent news release.

Each Independence Day, orthopedic surgeons see many cases of fireworks-related injuries, including the loss of fingers and hands.

"An exploding firecracker can devastate a person's life in a flash," says academy president Dr. Vernon T. Tolo. "Fireworks should be off limits to all except qualified personnel. Under no circumstances should children play with firecrackers or related devices."

"Firecrackers can misfire. The fuse may be defective. A wind shift might change the rocket's direction or what seems to be a 'dud' suddenly explodes. Even sparklers, which may appear to be safe for young children, burn at very high temperatures and can easily ignite clothing. Children cannot assess the potential danger involved, and cannot act appropriately in case of emergency," Tolo says.

He recommends you stay alert this Fourth of July, and avoid areas where people light fireworks.

Last year, hospitals and doctors' offices treated an estimated 16,700 fireworks-related injuries suffered by people under age 25, says the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

If you plan on lighting fireworks, the CPSC offers the following safety guidelines:

  • Don't let young children play with fireworks.
  • Do not allow any running or horseplay.
  • Light fireworks outdoors in a clear area away from houses, dry leaves or grass and other flammable materials.
  • Keep a bucket of water nearby for emergencies, and for pouring on fireworks that don't go off.
  • Don't try to relight or handle malfunctioning fireworks. Douse and soak them with water, and throw them in the garbage.
  • Be sure other people are out of range before lighting fireworks.
  • Never ignite fireworks in a container, especially a glass or metal container.
  • Keep unused fireworks away from firing areas.
  • Store fireworks in a cool, dry place. Check instructions for special storage directions.

More information

The National Council on Fireworks Safety has tips for the Fourth of July.

SOURCE: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, news release, June 27, 2002
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