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How to Play it Safe Around Fireworks

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Patriotism and pyrotechnics can be a dangerous mix when it comes to using illegal fireworks or legal ones improperly on the Fourth of July.

In 2002, hospital emergency rooms treated 8,800 people for fireworks related injuries. This is down from 9,500 people in 2001, but still way too high for safety experts.

Sparklers, a popular choice for people of all ages, may seem harmless, but they are not, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

The dazzling, hand-held fireworks actually burn at temperatures of 2000 degrees Fahrenheit, hot enough to cause third-degree burns. They were the top cause of injuries last year -- 50 percent higher than even firecrackers, CPSC officials say.

The commission also warns against carrying around legal fireworks in your pocket, bag or on your body. Both intentional and accidental lighting of fireworks on or near your person can result in burns.

M-80's, a type of firework that has been banned under federal law since 1966, pack a bunch of power, and are dangerous, to boot, especially if someone is trying to light one and throw it. They can blow your hand, foot and fingers right off, the CPSC says.

In fact, loss of fingers and hands accounted for more than half of fireworks injuries. The burn rate of the fuse can vary from several seconds to just a few. Even if you think you have plenty of time to light one and toss, it, it could go off right in your hand. The even more powerful, and also illegal, M-1000 is equivalent to a quarter stick of dynamite.

Highly explosive M-80's, cherry bombs, and quarter sticks have been banned under Federal law since 1966.

If you do decide to set fireworks off on your own, be sure to follow these important safety tips: Make sure your fireworks are legal in your area. 

Read and follow all warnings and instructions. A responsible adult should closely supervise all fireworks activities.

Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.

Be sure other people are out of range before lighting fireworks. Never point or throw fireworks at another person.

Only light fireworks on a smooth, flat surface away from the house, dry leaves, and flammable materials.

Light one item at a time, then move back quickly.

Never try to re-light fireworks that have not fully functioned.

Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them in metal or glass containers.

Keep a bucket of water or a hose handy in case of a malfunction or fire.

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Copyright 2003 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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