Officials: Fireworks safety ‘a priority’
by Staff Reports
Jul 03, 2013 | 3041 views | 0 0 comments | 69 69 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Officials are encouraging anyone planning to use fireworks this Fourth of July holiday to use extreme caution.
Officials are encouraging anyone planning to use fireworks this Fourth of July holiday to use extreme caution.
The number of injuries from fireworks-related accidents is on the rise, say doctors who treat those suffering from burns and assorted eye injuries caused by fireworks. There is an easy way to avoid those injuries, however. That’s by using a little common sense and just being cautious.

The most common injury caused by fireworks is to the eyes. In most cases, the injury could have been avoided.

In a seven-year study conducted by the United States Eye Injury Registry, 70 cases of eye injuries resulting from fireworks were examined. Of those, 83 percent of the injuries were from bottle rockets. Seven of those cases ended with the victim losing an eye.

“Bottle rockets are small and appear innocent — a firework on a stick — but they are extremely dangerous, even if they are used as directed,” Dr. C. Douglas Witherspoon, vice president of the United States Eye Injury Registry and a member of the American Academy of Ophthalmology Eye Safety and Sports Ophthalmology Committee, said following the study. “Several studies have shown them to be the most dangerous type of Class C fireworks.”

According to the Alabama Optometric Association, sparklers also cause a significant number of eye injuries each year. Sparklers, which burn at heats exceeding 1,500 degrees, are hazardous to the eyes because they are held in the hand and often swung in the air close to the eyes.

Each year, approximately 2,350 people suffer eye injuries from fireworks, the association said. More than half of those injured are children under the age of 14.

”Children think shooting fireworks is fun,” Witherspoon said. “They think of fireworks as toys, when in fact they are dangerous weapons.”

Most people may not be aware that fireworks are illegal in the city of Jasper, and getting caught with them can land you in a lot of trouble. In addition, with the dry weather that’s plagued Jasper and Walker County in recent weeks, discharging fireworks can be a serious fire hazard and extremely dangerous.

Even with rain expected in the county over the next few days, it’s best to use extreme caution when using fireworks.

“It’s best to be in a safe setting before shooting off fireworks. Try to make sure to stay away from wooded areas,” said acting Jasper Fire Chief David Clark. “And, above all, kids should never be allowed to used fireworks without adult supervision.”

Clark said Jasper firefighters have run calls caused by errant fireworks, including fires caused by bottle rockets landing in gutters on homes. He said they’ve also seen hand injuries casued by fireworks.

“The biggest thing is to practice safety,” he said.

To help you celebrate safely this Fourth of July, the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the National Council on Fireworks Safety offer the following safety tips:

•Always read and follow label directions.

•Have an adult present.

•Buy from reliable sellers.

•Use outdoors only.

•Always have water handy (a garden hose and a bucket).

•Never experiment or make your own fireworks.

•Light only one firework at a time.

•Never re-light a “dud” firework (wait 15 to 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water).

•Never give fireworks to small children.

•If necessary, store fireworks in a cool, dry place.

•Dispose of fireworks properly by soaking them in water and then disposing of them in your trashcan.

•Never throw or point fireworks at other people.

•Never carry fireworks in your pocket.

•Never shoot fireworks in metal or glass containers.

•The shooter should always wear eye protection and never have any part of the body over the firework.

•Stay away from illegal explosives.