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Put safety first when using fireworks

• Jul 3, 2019 at 6:00 PM

It's a little hard to believe, but the Fourth of July is here. It feels like we were just shoveling snow away from our front doors and preheating our cars in the morning, and now we are officially less than six months away from Christmas Day.

Being Yoopers, it's always vital to make the most of our summer holidays, as fleeting as they may be. That means always remembering to be safe, especially when it comes to lighting fireworks.

According to the National Safety Council's website, nsc.org, eight people died and more than 12,000 were injured badly enough to require medical treatment after fireworks-related incidents in 2017. Of these, 50 percent of the injuries were to children and young adults under age 20.

Over two-thirds of injuries took place from June 16 to July 16. And while the majority of these incidents were due to amateurs attempting to use professional-grade, homemade or other illegal fireworks or explosives, an estimated 1,200 injuries were from less powerful devices like small firecrackers and sparklers.

The website recommends several measures to help prevent injury, including:

— Never allow children to handle fireworks; older children should only use them under close adult supervision

— Never use fireworks while impaired by drugs or alcohol

— Anyone using fireworks or standing nearby should wear protective eyewear

— Never hold lighted fireworks in your hands

— Never light fireworks indoors

— Only use them away from people, houses and flammable material

— Never point or throw fireworks at another person

— Only light one device at a time and maintain a safe distance after lighting

— Never ignite devices in a container

— Do not try to relight or handle malfunctioning fireworks

— Soak both spent and unused fireworks in water for a few hours before discarding

— Keep a bucket of water nearby to fully extinguish fireworks that don't go off or in case of fire

It's also important to remember that even smaller fireworks don't mean they are safe. The NSC reports that sparklers alone account for more than 25 percent of emergency room visits for fireworks injuries. For children under 5 years of age, sparklers accounted for nearly half of the total estimated injuries.

Before we know it, we'll be raking up the leaves in our yards in preparation for the long winter. Yoopers need to enjoy the few precious months of summer we are granted — especially the holidays — and there's no worse way to spend a holiday than in the emergency room. During this Fourth of July, remember that the best holiday is a safe holiday.


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