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Dramatic firework displays require planning, caution Featured

With the Fourth of July on the horizon, many people are thinking about the parties and barbecues that inevitably accompany the holiday. At those events adults often set off fireworks displays while kids play with sparklers and bottle rockets but it is easy to forget that fireworks can be dangerous to both people and property. "They are beautiful to look at and it’s a wonderful time to celebrate but we have laws to protect us as well. If you want to shoot fireworks, be sure you are in the country. We have city ordinances that prohibit residents from shooting off fireworks inside the Cleveland city limits. We are as patriotic as anyone else but we have to be mindful of others. People have a reasonable expectation of happiness and safety," said Cleveland Fire Inspector Greg Jackson. While fireworks are sold at roadside stands and even gas stations they are not toys; they are explosives and should be handled with care. Even sparklers, which are given to very young children, can be a serious threat. "Sparklers are a common firework used each year. These seemingly harmless sticks can cause very serious injuries. The tip of a sparkler burns at a temperature of more than 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit, which is six-times the temperature of boiling water and hot enough to cause third-degree burns," according to a press release from Bolivar Medical Center. Burns are not the only threat that fireworks pose, they are also capable of damaging hearing and causing eye injuries. "You may want to consider wearing gloves if you will be setting off your own fireworks. You should also wear eye protection and ear protection. Especially with the mortar style fireworks, there is a tremendous noise. If they go off too close to people, there is the potential for hearing damage. You need to be sure to keep these well away from people, they are designed to be viewed at a distance," said Jackson. Fireworks can also be a catalyst for fires that could damage homes and property. "Of course I'm always excited to see everything wet like it has been. When we don't get enough rain and things are dry outside the possibilities are greater for a fire to occur. The potential goes down when we have a rainy summer but it does not go away. “A bottle rocket or other propellant could go through a window or into other areas such as a carport. Once people set off the fireworks, they travel a good distance and a small ember can create a large fire. Take the extra steps and the extra time to protect yourself and those around you, be sure you are away from anything flammable before you set off any fireworks," said Jackson. Bolivar Medical Center offered the following tips for additional safety measures. Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks and ensure that an adult is always present to supervise fireworks activities. Keep a bucket of water or hose close by in case of a fire. Avoid fireworks that are packaged in brown paper because this is often a signal of fireworks that are strictly for professional displays. Light fireworks one at a time, and then move back quickly. Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse.  Never point or throw fireworks at another person or carry fireworks in your pocket. Never shoot off fireworks in metal or glass containers. Never attempt to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully. After fireworks complete their burning, douse the fireworks with water from a bucket or hose before discarding it to prevent a trash fire. “Unfortunately, emergency rooms across the country see a spike in patients due to fireworks injuries every July. We urge everyone in the community to take precautions to ensure their safety and the safety of their children this year,” said Linda Anderson, emergency department manager at Bolivar Medical Center. If anyone you know does sustain injuries at an Independence Day celebration, get them medical attention immediately. For more information about fireworks ordnances in your town or city, contact your local police department.

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