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NEWS | June 26, 2013

Fireworks safety tips for the 4th of July holiday

By Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

With warm weather and time for family events, the Fourth of July holiday can be a fun time with great memories. But, before your family celebrates, make sure everyone knows about fireworks safety.

The Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs office reminds everyone that the use of fireworks on the Air Base and Weapons Station is prohibited. If you use fireworks off base, it's important to practice firework safety to ensure everyone has a safe and enjoyable holiday season.

If not handled properly, fireworks can cause burns and eye injuries in children and adults. According to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, an estimated 9,600 injuries were treated in U.S. hospitals as a result of firework misuse during the 2011 calendar year. During the last decade, an average of 10 people died every year from firework misuse.

The best way to protect your family is not to use any fireworks at home. Attend public fireworks displays and leave the lighting to the professionals.

Lighting fireworks at home isn't legal in many areas, so before you stock up on fireworks, check your local laws. And although fireworks are legal in many areas of South Carolina, even the Palmetto state has different laws and regulations as to what can be shot where, and most localities have time limits on when fireworks can be lit.

So if you plan on lighting a few fireworks during the holiday, keep these safety tips in mind:

·Children should only light fireworks under parental supervision. Make sure the children keep the fireworks outside and away from their faces, clothing and hair. Sparklers can reach 1,800¬° Fahrenheit (982¬° Celsius) -- hot enough to melt gold.

·Buy only legal fireworks. Legal fireworks have a label with the manufacturer's name and directions; illegal ones are unlabeled. Store them in a cool, dry place. Illegal fireworks usually go by the names M-80, M100, blockbuster or quarter-pounder. These explosives were banned in 1966, but still account for many fireworks injuries.

·Never try to make your own fireworks.

·Always use fireworks outside and have a bucket of water and a hose nearby in case of accidents.

·Be mindful of the wind and prevent sparks and embers from blowing back your way or into dry grass or other combustible material.

·Steer clear of others' fireworks, they've been known to backfire or shoot off in the wrong direction. Never throw or point fireworks at someone, even in jest.

·Don't hold fireworks in your hand or have any part of your body over them while lighting. Wear eye protection, and avoid carrying fireworks in your pocket.

·Point fireworks away from homes and keep away from brush, leaves and flammable substances. The National Fire Protection Association estimates that local fire departments respond to more 50,000 fires caused by fireworks each year.

·Light one firework at a time (not in glass or metal containers), and never relight a dud.

·Don't allow kids to pick up pieces of fireworks after an event. Some may still be ignited and can explode at any time.

·Soak all fireworks in a bucket of water before throwing them in the trash.

·Think about your pet. Animals have sensitive ears and can be extremely frightened or stressed on the Fourth of July. Keep pets indoors to reduce the risk that they'll run loose or get injured.

·If a child is injured by fireworks, take the child to a doctor or hospital immediately. If an eye injury occurs, don't allow your child to touch or rub it, as this may cause even more damage. Also, don't flush the eye out with water or attempt to put any ointment on it. Instead, cut out the bottom of a paper cup, place it around the eye and immediately seek medical attention - your child's eyesight may depend on it. If it's a burn, remove clothing from the burned area and run cool, not cold water over the burn (do not use ice). Transport to a hospital or emergency department facility.

Fireworks are meant to be enjoyed, but you'll enjoy them much more knowing your family is safe. Take extra precautions this Fourth of July and your holiday will be a blast!
Virgil Jones, Hill Air Force Base fire inspector contributed to this article.