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Safety Experts Warn of Fireworks Dangers
Date:7/4/2011

By Dennis Thompson
HealthDay Reporter

SUNDAY, July 3 (HealthDay News) -- No doubt about it: Fireworks are a delight, filling the summer air with dazzling colors and deafening sounds. But they also can be a danger.

Thousands of people every year are harmed by fireworks, many of them maimed for life, because they did not use them with the proper respect and care.

"Where we see injuries is a lack of common sense," said Julie L. Heckman, executive director of the American Pyrotechnics Association, a U.S. fireworks industry trade association. "Teenagers having bottle-rocket wars, shooting bottle rockets at each other. Adults holding a Roman candle, when Roman candles are not designed to be held."

Fireworks-related injuries have continued to fill emergency rooms in recent years, according to the most recent data available from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Fireworks played a role in three deaths and an estimated 8,600 injuries treated in emergency rooms during 2010, the commission reported. In 2009, there were 8,800 ER visits involving fireworks -- a 25 percent increase from the year before, when there were 7,000 fireworks-related injuries.

In addition, according to the CSPC's latest report, 40 percent of those treated in ERs in 2010 were children younger than 15, more than half the injuries were burns and 1,200 injuries involved the use of sparklers, not firecrackers.

Because of such statistics, public safety groups such as Prevent Blindness America believe that no fireworks are safe, regardless of whether they're legal in a given community. They urge people to not purchase fireworks or use them, but instead attend public fireworks displays conducted by licensed operators.

Fireworks seem to have a certain allure, however, and health professionals such as Noreen Smith, a registered nurse, understand that many people will not heed these warnings.

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