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The Chief’s Corner

By Robert W. Seltzer, BSEE, EFO, MPA

Chief Smithfield Fire Dept.

It is that time of year again, July 4th! It is one of the most time honored celebrations of our country. It can be a very festive and enjoyable day for most people. However, it can be a day of devastating traumatic injury for some. A day that may change a life forever.

Fireworks cause an estimated 18,500 fires in the United States each year. United States hospital emergency rooms see about 10,000 people for fireworks-related injuries each year. Sparklers alone account for more than one-quarter of emergency room fireworks injuries. Children aged 5-9 are more than twice as likely as other age groups to be injured by fireworks.

Last year in Smithfield, our rescue personnel responded to a fireworks injury involving a young boy. The boy had found some fireworks left in his home by his parents and decided to try to light one. The result was the loss of fingers and significant injury to his hand.

Although fireworks are often used to mark special events and holidays, they are not always safe in the hands of consumers. Fireworks cause thousands of burns and eye injuries each year. People can enjoy fireworks safely if they follow a few simple safety tips:

Never use fireworks while impaired by drugs or alcohol
Never allow young children to handle fireworks
Older children should use them only under close adult supervision
Anyone using fireworks or standing nearby should wear protective eyewear
Never light them indoors
Only use them away from people, houses and flammable material
Only light one device at a time and maintain a safe distance after lighting
Never ignite devices in a container
Never point or throw fireworks at another person
Do not try to re-light or handle malfunctioning fireworks
Soak unused fireworks in water for a few hours before discarding
Keep a bucket of water nearby to fully extinguish fireworks that don’t go off or in case of fire
Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers
Never place a part of your body directly over a firework device when lighting
Best tip, be safe. If you want to see fireworks, go to a public show put on by experts