Stay safe around 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.

While there are lots of reasons to celebrate, take a moment to remember that this time of year can be dangerous. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, there were an estimated 9,100 fireworks-related injuries treated in emergency rooms across the United States in 2018, with 62 percent of those injuries coming in the 30 days surrounding July 4.

Firecrackers, at 19 percent, were reported as the No. 1 cause of injuries. Sparklers accounted for more than half of the total estimated injuries for children younger than 5. The majority of these injured, 64 percent, were males, and those in the 25-44 age group suffered the greatest number of injuries (34 percent.)

Most of the fireworks injuries were to the hands and fingers, legs, eyes, head, face and ears. More than 44 percent of the injuries were burns. An even more sobering statistic from the CPSC is that at least five people died last year from fireworks-related injuries. The number since 2003 is 121.

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 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.

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