By Robert W. Seltzer

It is that time of year again, July 4th! 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.

Every July I write about fireworks safety and the reason why is that every July thousands of people around the country suffer from fireworks-related injuries. Sparklers alone account for more than one-quarter of emergency room fireworks injuries.

We suffered a severe fireworks tragedy here in Smithfield two years ago. A young boy 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. We DO NOT want to see this occur again and ONLY YOU CAN PREVENT FIREWORKS INJURIES!

If you want to see fireworks, go to a public show put on by experts. This is the safest way to enjoy fireworks and protect your family from the danger of a fireworks accident. However, I am a realist and I am well aware that many families in the Smithfield community are going to be using fireworks, both legal and illegal types. If you will be one of those using fireworks,

PLEASE remember the following 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. Parents don’t realize that young children suffer injuries from sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees – hot enough to melt some metals.
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 metal or glass 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 or a garden hose to fully extinguish fireworks that don’t go off or in case of a fire
Never carry fireworks in a pocket
Never place a part of your body directly over a firework device when lighting

On behalf of all the men and women of the Smithfield Fire Department, enjoy your 4th of July and be SAFE!