Avoiding fireworks-related injuries over July 4 holiday

SOUTH CAROLINA (WMBF) - Hundreds of vibrant colors light the skies on the Fourth of July, but what starts as an innocent celebration could turn deadly should fireworks be mishandled.

A recent study released by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission revealed fireworks were involved in an estimated 7,000 injuries treated in U.S. hospitals in 2008. The statistic is the latest compilation of nationwide fireworks-related injuries.

The number, while high, decreased by nearly 2,800 from previous injuries reported to the CPSC in 2007. Officials say the most common types of fireworks used at the time of injury were sparklers, fire crackers and fountains.

According to the CPSC, approximately 16 percent of all consumer fireworks injuries are caused by sparkers burning hands and legs, with the majority of sparker injuries occurring to young children.

On the brink of July 4th celebrations this year, the National Council on Fireworks is asking both children and adults to be 'sparkler smart.' Officials say major and minor injuries can be avoided by the careful handling of fireworks and matches.

The National Council on Fireworks is offering the following sparkler safety tips:

  • Obey local laws and use common sense
  • Always read and follow instructions with an adult present
  • Keep burning sparklers away from buildings, shrubs and clothing
  • Light only one sparkler at a time
  • Only use sparklers outdoors and put in a bucket of water when finished

Should alcohol be present at your Fourth of July celebration, emergency crews suggest for one person at the gathering to be the "designated shooter." Having a designated shooter, officials claim, will help fend the risk of injury while under the influence.

Fireworks are only to be used as intended, and not constructed to withstand any alterations. Officials advise to always have water handy in case of a malfunction and to always light fireworks away from buildings, shrubbery and people.

If a dud happens to make its way into the mix of fireworks, do not relight it. The National Council on Fireworks Safety suggests to wait 20 minutes before soaking the dud in a bucket of water.

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