Be safe while enjoying fireworks

The Fourth of July is a time to celebrate with family picnics and get-togethers, sometimes accompanied by a few bangs and booms, but remember: The best advice about fireworks is to leave them to the professionals.

It’s estimated that emergency rooms across the country will treat about 760 people for fireworks-related injuries this holiday. According to information compiled by WalletHub, 68 percent of all fireworks-related injuries every year occur within a month of the Fourth of July.

A report compiled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission shows that in 2016, children younger than 15 accounted for 31 percent of estimated injuries, and 39 percent of the estimated emergency department-treated fireworks-related injuries were to individuals younger than 20. That study also showed that 61 percent of fireworks-related injuries were suffered by males.

Most of the fireworks injuries were to the hand, eyes, head and ears. More than half of the injuries were burns. And, an even more sobering statistic is that seven people are expected to die this year from fireworks-related injuries.

If you are going to purchase your own fireworks, make sure you know the laws that apply to your area. Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia all have different laws and regulations about the types of fireworks you are allowed to possess and detonate.

Remember that even the simplest of fireworks can cause a great deal of damage to individuals and property. Bottle rockets, for example, have been known to cause house fires where they land and can ignite an entire neighborhood if they land on dry vegetation. They also can cause severe facial injuries.

Even novelty items, such as sparklers, which are allowed in most locations, can cause injuries — they burn at more than 1,000 degrees and can cause clothing to ignite and burns to the skin.

Children are excited and curious about fireworks, which can lead to serious injuries — remember, an open flame is needed to ignite fireworks, and a book or box of matches or a lighter can bring another set of dangers.

Education about the concerns surrounding fireworks is paying off — while the use of fireworks in the United States has increased from 117 million pounds in 1994 to 268.4 million pounds in 2016, injuries per 100,000 pounds have dropped from 10.7 in 1994 to 4.14 in 2016, according to injury estimates from the safety commission and firework import data from the U.S. International Trade Commission.

This year, enjoy the many fireworks displays scheduled around the area, and if you do choose to set off your own presentation in your back yard, make sure you keep safety first.