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On Independence Day, Think Fireworks Safety First
Date:7/4/2008

crackers, bottle rockets and sparklers lead to more than 70 percent of fireworks injuries in the United States each year.

"There are a number of consumer fireworks that people think are relatively safe, when they are not, like sparklers," Carli said.

Sparklers burn at 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit. In 2006, sparklers caused 1,000 injuries. For children under 5, they accounted for the largest number of estimated injuries, about one-third of all injuries for that age group, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

When it comes to injuries, males are three times likelier to be victimized, a gender distinction that leaves doctors shaking their heads. "A big bang to young boys is a cool thing," Stout said. "I think that's probably pretty common. It's kind of human nature."

To prevent boys from being boys, Stout recommends that parents who buy fireworks securely lock away any leftovers -- or better yet use them all up.

"The worst injuries we see are people who have a bunch of firecrackers left over, and kids get into them," he said. "Anything can be combined together and cause a bottle to explode, or some other sort of explosion. Just use them up."

Hands are the part of the body most often injured by fireworks, followed by the eyes.

Approximately half of the estimated sparkler injuries involve hands and fingers, the same pattern as firecracker injuries, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. About half the bottle rocket injuries involve the eyes, and almost 30 percent involve the head, face or ear.

While hands usually suffer burns, the eyes can be injured in one of three ways by fireworks, Stout said.

They can be burned, of course. But eyes also can be harmed merely by the concussion from a firework.

"When a firework explodes close to the eye, the shock wave causes damage," Stout said. "It can cause the lens to dislocate. You don't have anything go in
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