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The exploding sounds of Fourth of July fireworks can already be heard in some Quad-Cities neighborhoods.

Every year, my sons look forward to going shopping for fireworks with the goal of buying the loudest, most colorful ones they can find. Like a child in a candy store, my father-in-law eagerly helps select the pricey explosives. The light show that results is impressive and loud.

From playing with sparklers when they were toddlers to setting off the big boomers at their current ages of 20 and 16, my sons have been taking part in the fireworks tradition since they were little. I’ve enjoyed witnessing the fun and laughter at sundown every Fourth of July.

And despite them being cautious, I have always been nervous about the fireworks. 

The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that about 13,000 people annually visit emergency rooms with injuries from fireworks. Around the Fourth of July holiday, about 300 people go to emergency rooms with fireworks-related injuries every day. About 50% of those injures are burns. Of those, 30% are to the hands and fingers, and 20% are to the face, head, eyes and ears.

Fireworks can be dangerous and can cause serious burns and injuries if precautions aren't taken. To prevent injury, the CPSC annually reminds families of these safety tips:

  • Make sure consumer fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them.
  • Never use or make professional-grade fireworks.
  • Do not buy or use fireworks that are packaged in brown paper; this is often a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays and are not for consumer use.
  • Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks, including sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. This is hot enough to melt some metals.
  • Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Move to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.
  • Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
  • Light fireworks one at a time, then move away from them quickly.
  • Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishaps.
  • Never try to relight or handle malfunctioning fireworks. Soak them with water and throw them away.
  • After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent devices with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding to prevent a trash fire.

As my sons prepare for one of their favorite holidays, I have already had the safety talk with them, hoping that with their age comes common sense. I encourage all parents to talk to their children about safety before playing with fireworks and sparklers.

Martha Garcia is a writer, communications instructor and bilingual marketing professional who lives in Bettendorf. She can be contacted at marthagarciawriter@yahoo.com.

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