Fireworks safety important for New Years celebrations

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Each year in the United States there are more than 7,000 injuries related to fireworks, making it important to celebrate the beginning of the new century safely and responsibly.

Jane Norton, executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, urges residents to leave the fireworks to the professionals.

"However, if you do choose to set off your own fireworks, obey local ordinances," she said.

A good rule of thumb, Craig Fire/Rescue Chief Roy Mason said, is that anything that explodes or shoots off the ground is illegal.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment urged residents to leave the fireworks to the professionals to prevent serious burns and injuries.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, an estimated 8,500 people were treated in hospital emergency rooms in 1998 for injuries associated with fireworks. Nearly 40 percent of the victims were under age 15.

When planning to have a private fireworks display, follow these safety tips:

Before the celebration begins, teach children guidelines for handling fireworks safely. Teach children to react to burning clothing using the stop, drop and roll technique. Practice this technique with them several times.

When purchasing fireworks, look them over for damage and visual defects, such as leaking powder, age or moisture exposure.

Never attempt to make or alter fireworks.

Fireworks are responsible for between 1,300 and 1,800 house fires annually in the United States, causing up to $55 million dollars in damage. This is why it is important that fireworks only be ignited in an area that is away from homes, shrubs and patches of dry grass.

Never set off fireworks indoors.

Avoid a display area where participants and onlookers congregate in the street or near vehicle traffic.

Always read and follow the firework's label directions.

Never ignite fireworks in glass or metal containers. Flying glass and metal fragments will add a dangerous element to an otherwise festive event.

Always light fireworks one at a time and never attempt to relight or approach a piece of fireworks that did not deploy. Leave fireworks in place for several hours before attempting to remove them.

Supervise children near fireworks.

Sparklers are commonly given to children and are the leading fireworks-related cause of injury to children five and younger.

In winter weather, warm layered clothing will be the norm. However, this type of clothing can become a hazard when paired with fireworks and open flames. Synthetic fabrics and those with loose weaves ignite readily and tend to cause severe burns.

If the weather calls for gloves and scarves, ensure that they do not come in contact with open flames.

Long hair should also be tied back and kept away from flames.

Have a bucket of water nearby to cool sparklers and extinguish other fireworks.

If burns do happen, doctors at Children's Hospital in Denver advise the immersion of the burned area in cool or cold running water. Never use ice, as it can add to the existing tissue damage. In the case of serious injury, contact a physician immediately.

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