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Fireworks are awesome (and dangerous)!

Friday, June 22, 2012

If you drove much around the area this week, you probably saw them.

The fireworks stands annually pop up like weeds sometime around the first day of summer, only to disappear July 5. These stands are a great indicator that Independence Day is right around the corner, and they remind me to ask readers to be careful while you enjoy them.

I asked a nurse in the Southeast Hospital emergency room if they see much traffic from fireworks injuries. She told me that they don't see many bad cases, and the really gruesome injuries would most likely get airlifted to St. Louis. They do, however, treat a lot of burns, which can be painful, no matter how small.

So, if you bought a supply for your own backyard show or you plan to do so before July 4, please keep the following safety tips from The National Council on Fireworks Safety (fireworksafety.com) in mind:

Before lighting fireworks: Choose an open area away from spectators, homes and buildings and dry vegetation. Use a garden hose to wet down the area before firing.

During: As each device burns out, soak it using a hose or bucket of water.

After: Place all used items in a covered, fireproof container and leave it outside and away from homes and buildings.

* Use fireworks outdoors only.

* Always have water handy.

* Only use fireworks as intended. Don't try to alter them or combine them.

* Never relight a "dud" firework. Wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water.

* Use common sense. Spectators should keep a safe distance from the person lighting the fuse, and he/she should wear safety glasses.

* Alcohol and fireworks do not mix. Have a "designated lighter."

* Only people over the age of 12 should be allowed to handle sparklers of any type.

* Do not ever use homemade fireworks or illegal explosives; they can kill you. Report illegal explosives to the fire or police department in your community.

So have a happy and safe fireworks show, and light a few sparklers for me.


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James Samons
Street Spirit
James Samons writes about (and studies) the arts and entertainment culture of Southeast Missouri and Southern Illinois. Every week he writes on the arts for the Southeast Missourian's SE Live entertainment section.