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Let’s play it safe with fireworks

The Fourth of July is a time traditionally shared with family picnics and get-togethers.

Many of those celebrations will be accompanied by a few bangs, booms and splashes of color and sparks.

And, while we hope everyone will have a good time, we ask, once again, that you leave the fireworks to the professionals.

Summer, especially the weeks that surround the Independence Day holiday, offers the promise of relaxing, care-free enjoyment, but 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 and at least 12 deaths across the United States in 2019, with 70 percent of those injuries coming in the 30 days surrounding July 4.

Firecrackers were reported as the No. 1 cause of injuries, and sparklers accounted for more than half of the total estimated injuries for children younger than 5. The majority of those injured were males, and those under the age of 20 and in the 25-44 age group suffered nearly two-thirds of all injuries

Most of the fireworks-related injuries were to the hands and fingers, legs, eyes, head, face and ears, and more than 44 percent of the injuries were burns. An even more sobering statistic from the CPSC is that around 150 people have died as a result of fireworks-related injuries since 2003.

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 fall on dry vegetation.

In fact, according to the National Fire Protection Association, more than 19,500 fires are started by fireworks each year.

Even novelty items, such as sparklers, which are legal in most locations, can cause severe injuries — they burn at more than 1,200 degrees and can cause clothing to ignite and severe, life-changing damage to skin. To help put that temperature into perspective, the fire protection association says glass melts at 900 degrees.

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 a whole different set of dangers.

All of these precautions and warnings take on a greater sense of urgency since an Ohio law that goes into effect Friday allows commercial 1.4G fireworks to legally be set off during specific time periods on certain holidays. That includes 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. July 3, 4 and 5 and the weekends immediately before and after.

This year, enjoy the many fireworks displays that are scheduled to take place around the area, and if you do choose to set off your own presentation in your back yard, make sure you keep safety first.

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