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Pediatricians caution firework safety for holiday weekend



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SALT LAKE CITY -- This may be the time of the year a lot of Utahns want to blow things up to celebrate Independence Day, but local pediatricians are asking you to leave it to the professionals.

Fireworks Safety Tips
  • Use fireworks outdoors only.
  • Obey local laws. If fireworks are not legal where you live, do not use them!
  • Always have water handy (a hose or buckets of water).
  • Only use fireworks as intended. DO NOT try to alter them or combine them.
  • Never re-light a "dud" firework (wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water).
  • Spectators should keep a safe distance from the fireworks. The person lighting the fireworks should wear safety glasses.
  • Alcohol and fireworks do not mix! Have a "designated" person light fireworks.
  • Only persons over age 12 should be allowed to handle sparklers of any type.
  • DO NOT ever use homemade fireworks or illegal explosives.

Source: National Council on Fireworks Safety

Dr. Charles Pruitt, who is an emergency room physician at Primary Children's Medical Center, has seen a lot of what can go wrong with popular fireworks, such as Army tanks and rocket launchers.

"I see children come in with burns, eye injuries -- eye injuries that often result in blindness -- very serious injuries. Sometimes loss of digits, loss of limbs," Pruitt says.

He says too many parents essentially put dangerous fireworks in the hands of their kids.

The biggest fireworks concern Pruitt has is the popular sparkler. He says the sparkler just might be the most dangerous because parents hand them to children thinking, because they don't launch or explode, they're safe.

"Sparklers burn at somewhere between 1,800 and 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit," Pruitt says. "This is the temperature of an aluminum welder, for instance, and I don't think any of us responsible parents would send our children out to play with an aluminum welder."

Pruitt says he thinks the best way to enjoy fireworks is to just go to a professional show.

"Frankly, I think it's a waste of money to buy these fireworks and take them home," Pruitt says. "The payoff is so little, and the risk is so great. I recommend we leave it to the professionals."

Short of that, Pruitt says adults should light them and keep children far enough back. He says even the legal fireworks can cause serious injuries.

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Story compiled with contributions from Marc Giauque and Alex Cabrero.

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