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Never play around when it comes to fireworks

Though fireworks can be exciting, festive and fun, Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s hospitals want to remind community members that fireworks can also be very dangerous.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports, on average, 180 people go to the emergency room every day, with fireworks-related injuries around the July 4 holiday.

The hospitals’ trauma coordinator, Regi Geissler says the majority of injuries occur to the hands, fingers and eyes.

“If you do have an eye injury, don’t rub it or touch it in any way, because that may cause more damage,” she said.

Safety officials recommend fireworks be left to experts specially trained and certified in pyrotechnics.

However, if someone decides to use fireworks, be sure to practice the following safety tips:

• Know the law. Make sure fireworks are legal in the area, before buying or using them.

• Children should never play with fireworks. Firecrackers, rockets and sparklers can be extremely dangerous if not used properly. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees – hot enough to melt some metal. If sparklers are given to kids, make sure they keep them outside and away from their faces, clothing and hair.

• Store properly and buy legally. Buy only legal fireworks and store them in a cool, dry place. Remember, fireworks in brown paper packaging are intended for professional displays only, not home use.

• Don’t DIY. Never try to make fireworks.

• Be prepared. Always use fireworks outside, and have a bucket of water and a hose nearby.

• Keep a distance. Steer clear of others, and never throw or point fireworks at someone.

• Take precautions. Don’t hold fireworks in the hand or have any body parts over them while lighting. Wear eye protection and do not carry fireworks in a pocket. Never try to relight or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully.

• Know the surroundings. Point fireworks away from homes and keep them away from bushes, leaves and other flammable sources.

• Quality, not quantity. Light one firework at a time.

• Make sure the fire is out. Soak all fireworks in a bucket of water before throwing them in the trash can. Also, do not discard any fireworks, including used ones, in a fire pit.

If someone is injured by a firework and in need of emergency care, call 911 or visit the nearest emergency room.