Safety with fireworks

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By Marci L. Stone, MBA, EFO
Deputy Chief
Bedford County Department of Fire & Rescue

    July 4th always bring the backyard barbecues, family get together and spectacular fireworks celebrations. 
    Many families look forward to making their yearly trek to the local firework’s stand to make purchases for their own fireworks display.  According to the National Fire Protection Association:
    In 2010, U.S. hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 8,600 people for fireworks-related injuries. 73 percent of these injuries occurred between June 18 - July 18.
    Of these:
 65 percent were to males and 35 percent were to females.
 Children under 15 years old accounted for 40 percent of the estimated injuries.
 Children and young adults under 20 years old had 53 percent of the estimated injuries.
 An estimated 900 injuries were associated with firecrackers. Of these, an estimated 30 percent were associated with small firecrackers, 17 percent with illegal firecrackers, and 53 percent where the type of firecracker was not specified.
 An estimated 1,200 injuries were associated with sparklers and 400 with bottle rockets.
 The parts of the body most often injured were hands and fingers (30 percent), legs (22 percent), eyes (21 percent), and head, face, and ears (16 percent).
 More than half of the injuries were burns. Burns were the most common injury to all parts of the body except the eyes, where contusions, lacerations, and foreign bodies in the eye occurred more frequently.
 Most patients were treated at the emergency department and then released. An estimated 7 percent of patients were treated and transferred to another hospital or admitted to the hospital.
    If you are one of those families keep in mind some important safety tips to keep yourself and your loved ones safe:
    • Only use fireworks that are approved for use in Virginia
    • Only use fireworks outdoors
    • Utilize safety glasses and extended length matches when lighting fireworks
    • Always have a bucket filled with water or a water hose nearby to extinguish any embers
    •  Never relight a burnout or misfired firework
    • Never point or aim a firework at another person or animal
    •  Never allow children to handle fireworks
    • Even though sparklers seem harmless, they are extremely hot and caution should be used when lighting or holding them
    • Enjoying a public fireworks display is the safest way to enjoy the holiday.