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Our Opinion: Fireworks — Fascinating, dangerous

News Tribune editorial

Fireworks are fascinating.

That’s why area residents will bring blankets and lawn chairs to their favorite viewing spots to watch public fireworks during Jefferson City’s Salute to America celebration.

The state Division of Fire Safety encourages attendance at public celebrations because they are the safest way to enjoy fireworks.

Although the agency also licensed more than 1,100 seasonal retailers statewide, the use of fireworks by individuals is dangerous. Consequences include injuries and fires.

In 2012, U.S. hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 8,700 people for fireworks-related injuries, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Among people treated in emergency rooms, 40 percent were children younger than age 15.

In addition, far more fires are reported in the U.S. on a typical Independence Day than on any other day of the year, with fireworks accounting for more than half, according to the association. In 2011, fireworks caused an estimated 17,800 reported fires, including 1,200 total structure fires, 400 vehicle fires and 16,300 other fires.

How can you avoid contributing to these statistics? The Division of Fire Safety advises:

• Purchase fireworks only from a properly licensed retailer.

• Always keep young children away from fireworks. If teens are permitted to handle fireworks, they should be supervised closely by an adult.

• Only use fireworks in a large open space that has been cleared of flammable materials. Never light fireworks indoors.

• Always wear eye protection; use earplugs if you have sensitive ears.

• Tie back long hair and don’t wear loose fitting clothes.

• Only light one firework at a time; never try to re-light fireworks that have malfunctioned.

• Never have any part of your body over fireworks.

• Never throw or point fireworks at other people.

• Never carry fireworks in your pocket.

• Make sure to have water nearby in case of a fire or accident.

• Dispose of fireworks by soaking them in water and leaving them in a trash can.

• Don’t use fireworks while consuming alcohol. Use a “designated shooter.”

• Store fireworks in a cool, dry place. Don’t save fireworks from season to season.

Even for the most safety-conscious users, however, fireworks have no guarantees.

The safe alternative may be found and enjoyed at Salute to America.

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