July 4 holiday raises safety concerns

For many, July 4 is a time for family, barbecues and, of course, fireworks.

But the summertime holiday can quickly turn dangerous if students don’t practice proper firework safety.

An estimated 10,000 Americans have been injured annually in firework-related injuries over the past decade, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. The parts of the body most often injured are hands and fingers, eyes, head, face and ears.

Before purchasing fireworks, make sure they are legal for sale and use in the state of Ohio. Only smoke items, snakes, punks, snaps, toy trick novelties and sparklers are legal, according to the Ohio Department of Commerce.

Even though consumer fireworks such as bottle rockets, roman candles and fountains are legal for sale in Ohio, they are not legal for use, said Lt. Rich Lynn of the Kent Fire Department. Illegal possession or discharge of fireworks is a first-degree misdemeanor and can mean fines of up to $1,000 and six months imprisonment for first-time offenders.

The National Council on Fireworks Safety (NCFS) offers these tips to protect you from fireworks-related injury this holiday:

– Use fireworks outdoors only.

– Always have a hose or bucket of water handy to soak used fireworks.

– Only use fireworks as intended. Don’t try to alter them or combine them.

– Never relight a “dud” firework. Wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water.

– Spectators should keep a safe distance from the shooter. Those shooting fireworks should wear safety glasses.

– Alcohol and fireworks do not mix. Have a “designated shooter.”

– Only persons over the age of 12 should be allowed to handle sparklers of any type.

– Do not ever use homemade fireworks of illegal explosives.

“I’ve been on the department for 20 years, and I can’t tell you how many different

times I’ve seen fireworks cause some sort of fire accident,” said Lynn. “Use common sense with fireworks this holiday and be safe.”

Contact safety reporter Brittany Macchiarola at [email protected].