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Fireworks Safety Concerns Raised for the Fourth of July Holiday

by on July 02, 2013 7:30 AM

What's more festive on the Fourth of July than fireworks? We all enjoy looking skyward, and saying "Ooh," and "Aah" in response to each brilliant burst. Many of us indulge in our own light show in the front yard, running around with sparklers lighting up the night. 

But be careful. Everyone knows fireworks can be dangerous. But it's easy to forget just how dangerous.

According to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, 200 people go to the emergency room with fireworks-related injuries every day in the weeks around the Fourth of July. In 2012, there were six fireworks-related deaths and each was the result of illegal and homemade fireworks. 

In State College, emergency responders haven't gotten a 9-1-1 call for a fireworks-related injury in at least five years, says Lauren Shurgalla, the Marketing, Development and Relationship Manager at Centre LifeLink EMS. 

"Fall victims are our number one problem around the Fourth of July. It's strange, but true," Shurgalla says. "Our EMS Chief and I are guessing this might be due to people being more active and just being out and about town."

Still, fireworks are a concern and need to be taken seriously.

Nationwide, more than half of the injuries people sustained from fireworks last year were burns. Most injuries, 41-percent, involve the hands and fingers. Thirty-one percent of fireworks injuries involve the head, including the ears, eyes and face.

Of those injured, 23 percent of people are between 25 and 44 years old. Men are injured more often than women, though women are more often injured at public fireworks displays while men are hurt lighting sparklers and bottle rockets.

Police recommend that only professionals handle fireworks. Other safety tips include:

  • Wear ear protection for small children
  • Do not ignite anything on grass
  • Clean up debris afterward
  • Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks
  • Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not been lighted fully
  • Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose nearby in case of an emergency

If you're planning to take fireworks with you to the Fourth Fest celebration -- don't. Fireworks are banned on the Penn State campus.

According to Penn State's safety policy, fireworks are defined as "any combustible or explosive composition or any substance or combination of substances or any article prepared for the purpose of producing a visible or an audible effect by combustion, explosion, deflagration, or detonation and shall include:

"Any blank cartridge or toy cannon in which explosives are used; the type of balloons which require fire underneath to propel them; firecrackers, torpedoes, skyrockets, roman candles, aerials or other fireworks of like construction; and any fireworks containing any explosive or flammable compound or any tablets or other device containing any explosive substance." 

Penn State's entire safety policy is available here and more on fireworks safety can be found through the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission.



Laura Nichols is a news reporter and @LC_Nichols on Twitter.
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