BINGHAMTON, NY - For residents of Broome County, the Fourth of July means fun - parades, picnics, swimming, softball games and fireworks displays. But, many people will risk having the day's activities cut short by injuries resulting from the improper use of illegal fireworks, Jan Chytilo, Director of Health Education for the Broome County Health Department warned.
Firecrackers, cherry bombs, M-80's, sparklers and roman candles have all been banned in New York State and are illegal to possess. The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that in 2002, 8,800 people were treated in hospital emergency rooms for injuries associated with fireworks. Approximately 60 percent of the fireworks-related injuries were burns, and most of the burns involved the hands, eyes and head. Nearly one-half of the victims were under 15 years of age.
"It isn't just bottle rockets and large fireworks that cause injuries, sparklers are the third highest cause of injuries and can heat up to 1,800 degrees," said Ms. Chytilo. Many children injured by firework mishaps are under the age of 14. "Well-intentioned parents should realize that use of such explosives by their children can result in tragedy," she said.
Ms. Chytilo acknowledged that despite the danger, some people will use illegal fireworks over the July 4th holiday. She offered the following safety tips to help reduce the risk of injury:
- Read labels carefully for the handling and use of fireworks.
- Light fireworks outdoors and in a clear area away from your house and flammable materials. Keep children and pets away from the area. Remember that the percussion of the noise may cause fear and damage their ears.
- Never allow children to handle fireworks.
- Never experiment with fireworks by taking them apart or mixing them with other materials.
- Keep a bucket of water handy for emergencies. Dispose of malfunctioning fireworks by soaking them in water.
- Be careful with sparklers. Sparklers can ignite flammable materials and will remain very hot even after they are apparently out.
- Do not light fireworks in loose gravel as the explosion can turn small stones into dangerous missiles.
- Never hold fireworks while lighting them since the fuse may be faulty or you may misjudge the ignition time.
- Store fireworks in a dry, cool place and avoid rough handling that can result in damage to the fuse or make the device malfunction.
Ms. Chytilo stated, "Illegal, dangerous fireworks are not needed to celebrate the holiday, leave the fireworks to the professionals, attend a locally sponsored display, and avoid having your loved ones risk injury."
Posted: 6/30/2004 12:00 am