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Fireworks? Be safe!


UNDATED (WSAU) -- Fireworks can be fun, but also very dangerous. How dangerous? In 2011, emergency rooms in the United States treated 9,600 fireworks related injuries. Over half of those injuries were burns. About 23% were contusions and lacerations.

Tod Pritchard from Wisconsin Emergency Management says many of the injuries affect kids. “It’s so tragic. So many of those injuries, about a quarter of those are children, folks that are under the age of fifteen.” Pritchard says that fireworks you can buy locally may not be as big and dangerous as the professional shows, but they are still capable of causing severe injuries. “We think, well, we bought the fireworks from a store, they’re safe, they’re approved, they’re not illegal, they’re totally fine to use, but even legal fireworks can be very, very dangerous and lead to a lot of injuries.”

Many people let young children play with sparklers, but Pritchard says that’s where many of the burn injuries come from. “I don’t think many of us really realize that those sparklers are giving off at some point about twelve hundred degrees of heat.”

If you want to keep your family safer, Pritchard recommends going to the bigger, professionally run community fireworks shows and, instead of getting fireworks for the kids, there is another option. “Go out and get those glow sticks. Kids love them, they love running around with them, they love throwing them around, obviously there’s no heat involved, there’s no chemicals, nothing. You just crack the stick, it starts glowing, and the kids have fun. I’d rather point folks in that direction than the sparklers and those kind of things.”

If you do get fireworks, Pritchard urges parents not to let their kids try to light them, and the adults should wear eye protection when lighting them.

Human injury is not the only problem with fireworks. In 2011, there were 17,800 structure fires started by fireworks resulting in 32 million dollars worth of property damage.