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For many families, fireworks are a traditional part of celebrations, especially for Independence Day. But before you strike that match, safety experts urge you to consider the safety of your children — and yourself.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 15,000 fireworks-related injuries are treated each year in hospitals, doctor’s offices, clinics, surgery centers and emergency rooms. Injuries to children represent more than half those accidents.

If not handled properly, fireworks can cause burn and eye injuries. They have been known to blow away little fingers and permanently disfigure hands, legs and even faces.

The best way to protect your family is not to use any fireworks at home — period. Attend public fireworks displays, and leave the lighting to the professionals.

“Fireworks present substantial risks when used improperly,” says Nirmal Tejwani, M.D., a spokesperson for the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. “If fireworks misfire or explode prematurely, the extreme amount of force can tear or destroy tissue, including bones and nerves.”

If, after reading that, you are still determined to do your own fireworks, keep these safety rules in mind:

• Never allow young children to play with or go near fireworks, including sparklers. They may seem harmless, but sparklers can reach temperatures of more than 1,000 degrees, hot enough to melt gold. Even after they burn out, the metal holder for sparklers remain hot enough to cause a serious burn injury.

• Buy only legal fireworks with a label that includes the manufacturer’s name and directions. Store them in a cool, dry place. Never try to make your own fireworks.

• Steer clear of others using fireworks — fireworks have been known to backfire or shoot off in the wrong direction. Never throw or point fireworks at someone, even in jest.

• Don’t allow children to pick up pieces of fireworks after an event. Some may still be ignited and can explode at any time.

• Light one firework at a time, and never relight a dud.

• Don’t hold fireworks in your hand or have any part of your body over them while lighting. Wear some sort of eye protection, and avoid carrying fireworks in your pocket — the friction could set them off.

• Have a bucket of water and a hose nearby in case of accidents. Soak all fireworks in a bucket of water before throwing them in the trash can.

Fireworks are meant to be fun, but you’ll enjoy them much more knowing your family is safe. Play it smart this Fourth of July and your holiday will be a blast.

 

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