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As the Fourth of July holiday draws near, we are all excited about the glowing embers: in the sky, on the ground and in our hands. If you haven’t caught on yet, I’m referring to fireworks. Who doesn’t enjoy the festivity, excitement and fun that fireworks bring to the Fourth of July celebration? However, fireworks can cause serious burn or eye injuries if not used appropriately and correctly. In fact, the Center for Disease Control reported that in 2006 eleven people died and 9,200 were treated in emergency rooms for fireworks-related injuries. Moreover, an estimated 5% of fireworks-related injuries required hospitalization.

The most common types of injuries associated with fireworks are injured eyes, hands, head, face, or ears. Burns are the most common injury to all the listed body parts except for the eyes and head area, where serious cuts and bruises on the face and foreign matter in the eyes are more common. Unfortunately, children are at the greatest risk for these injuries: one out of every three people injured in 2006 was under 15 years old. However, males were also three times more likely to sustain injuries than females and young people under twenty sustained 47% of all reported injuries.

Why do so many serious injuries occur? Most of the time it is because of a shear lack of experience, lack of physical coordination (especially in young children), disregard for safety precautions, or dangerous experimentation with fireworks. The National Council on Fireworks Safety offers the following safety tips to keep your Fourth of July holiday fun and injury-free:

· Use fireworks outdoors only.

· Obey local laws, if fireworks are not legal where you live, don’t use them.

· Always have water handy.

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

· Never relight a “dud” firework. Wait 20 minutes and then soak dead fireworks in a bucket of water.

· Use common sense. Spectators should keep a safe distance from shooter fireworks and the shooter should wear safety glasses.

· Do not mix alcohol and fireworks—have a “designated” fireworks person.

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

· Do not ever use homemade fireworks or illegal explosives. If you do see someone using them, report them immediately to the local police or fire department. They can kill you!

So, enjoy your holiday and the fireworks, but remember, BE SAFE!

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