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Play it safe when using fireworks

The Fourth of July is a time to celebrate with family picnics and get-togethers, sometimes accompanied by a few bangs and booms, but remember: The best advice about fireworks is to leave them to the professionals.

With many communities through the Tri-State Area having canceled this year’s annual extravaganzas as a result of concerns raised by the COVID-19 pandemic, more area residents than ever might be tempted to put on their own displays. We hope, though, that you will take a moment to remember that this time of year can be dangerous.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, there were an estimated 10,000 fireworks-related injuries treated in emergency rooms across the United States and 12 fireworks-related deaths in 2019, with 73 percent of those injuries coming between June 21 and July 21. On average, an estimated 243 people will go each day to emergency rooms to be treated for fireworks-related injuries during that period.

Sparklers were the No. 1 cause of injuries, the commission reported. They led to an estimated 900 injuries, with 66 percent of those injuries occurring to males. That’s not surprising — they burn at temperatures higher than 1,000 degrees.

Close behind were firecrackers, which led to 11 percent of the injuries. Roman candles (6 percent), bottle rockets (5 percent), novelties (3 percent) and reloadable shells (2 percent) also can lead to injuries.

Most of the fireworks injuries were to the hands and fingers — 30 percent. Leg injuries accounted for 23 percent of the total; head, face and ears accounted for 16 percent; eyes accounted for 15 percent; arms accounted for 10 percent; and the trunk and other parts of the body accounted for 6 percent. An estimated 57 percent of the injuries were burns.

Most of the injures were suffered by those between the ages of 25 and 44 (34 percent.)

If you are going to purchase your own fireworks, make sure you know the laws that apply to your area. Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia have different laws and regulations about the types of fireworks you are allowed to possess and detonate.

Remember that even the simplest of fireworks can cause a great deal of damage to individuals and property. Bottle rockets, for example, have been known to cause house fires where they land and can ignite an entire neighborhood if they land on dry vegetation. They also can cause severe facial injuries.

Children are excited and curious about fireworks, which can lead to serious injuries — remember, an open flame is needed to ignite fireworks, and a book or box of matches or a lighter can bring another set of dangers. In fact, the commission reports, 14 percent of fireworks-related injuries happen to those who are 4 or younger, and 22 percent of injuries happen to those between the ages of 5 and 14.

There will be very few community displays this year. Locally, Steubenville will celebrate Independence Day Thursday, Wellsburg is planning its display for Friday and Toronto’s fireworks are scheduled for Saturday. Social distancing and other safety protocols will be in place.

But if you do choose to set off your own presentation in your back yard, make sure you keep safety first.

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