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FOR RELEASE: June 28, 2007
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
405/271-5601

July 4th Holiday is Here – Use Caution and Be Safe

Fireworks and celebrations go together, especially during the Fourth of July. Unfortunately, fireworks can be dangerous, causing serious burn and eye injuries. The Oklahoma State Department of Health is urging citizens to practice extra caution and safety during the upcoming Fourth of July activities across the state.

According to the 2005 Fireworks Annual Report released by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, firework devices were involved in four deaths and 10,800 injuries treated in hospital emergency departments, nationwide. More than half of all injuries were burns. Five out of every 100 injuries required hospital admission or transfer to a burn center. In 2005, two Oklahoma residents were injured severely enough by handling fireworks to be admitted to a burn center.

The body parts most often injured are hands, eyes, head, face, and ears. Children under age 15 account for nearly half of all injuries. Among different types of fireworks, firecrackers are associated with the greatest number of injuries. Hazards are most often associated with errant flight paths of aerial fireworks, fireworks exploding earlier or later than expected, and debris/hot material from the fireworks device.

The following are fireworks safety recommendations from firefighters, safety advocates, and public health officials:
 

  • Never build or experiment with homemade fireworks.
  • Before using fireworks, be sure they are permitted. Check with your local police or fire department to determine what is legal.
  • Never allow children to handle or ignite fireworks. Even sparklers, which burn at 1000°F, can be dangerous.
  • Read all warnings and instructions.
  • Be sure other people are out of range and warned before lighting fireworks.
  • Never hold fireworks while trying to ignite.
  • Only light fireworks on a smooth, flat surface away from houses, dry leaves and brush, and flammable materials.
  • Never try to relight fireworks that have not functioned properly.
  • Keep a bucket of water nearby in case of a malfunction.
  • Contact the fire department if a fire starts.

The safest way to prevent fireworks-related injuries is to leave fireworks displays to trained professionals. For more information, contact the Oklahoma State Department of Health Injury Prevention Service at (405) 271-3430, or your local county health department.

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