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For Release:  June 30, 2008
Contact: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
(405) 271-5601

Health Department Urges Fireworks Safety

It’s just around the corner – the Fourth of July.  For most of us, celebrating the day that marks America’s independence means enjoying festivities with family, friends, food, and just having fun!  From flag-lined streets to sweet treats, all across the nation you can find something sprinkled with a little red, white, and blue.  But what is Independence Day without the fireworks? The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) Injury Prevention Service wants to remind everyone to have fun and take precautions to prevent fireworks-related injuries. 

Each year, a number of families gather to watch professional fireworks shows while others choose to organize their own fireworks celebrations.  Although having your own fireworks show may be exciting, it is important to remember the risks surrounding such activities.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission reported 11 deaths and 9,200 injuries associated with fireworks nationwide in 2006.  Firecrackers, sparklers, and rockets caused the greatest number of injuries.  Between June 16 and July 16, 2006, 36 percent of fireworks-related injuries occurred in children under the age of 15, and sparklers caused 600 injuries to children under the age of 5.

Fireworks-related injuries most commonly occur to the head, face, eyes, ears, and hands.  Although contusions, lacerations, and foreign bodies in the eye are most common for head and eye injuries, burns account for more than half of all injuries to the entire body. 

The most frequent causes of injury include misuse of fireworks, explosion of fireworks earlier or later than expected, unexpected flight paths of aerial fireworks, fires caused by fireworks sparks or debris, and other malfunctions.

The OSDH Injury Prevention Service offers the following tips to keep your family and friends safe this Fourth of July:

• Before using fireworks, check with your local police or fire department to determine what is legal in your area. 
• Read all warnings and instructions.
• Never build or experiment with homemade fireworks.
• Never allow children to handle or light fireworks – including sparklers.  (Sparklers burn at more than 1000ºF!)
• Never hold fireworks while trying to light them.
• Never relight fireworks that malfunction.
• Be sure that spectators are out of range and are warned before lighting fireworks.
• Only light fireworks on a smooth, flat surface away from houses, dry leaves and brush, and flammable materials.
• Keep a bucket of water or water hose nearby in case of fire.
• If a fire starts, contact the fire department.

For more information, contact the OSDH Injury Prevention Service at (405) 271-3430, or your local county health department.  Have a safe and spectacular Fourth of July!

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