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Fireworks safety highlighted

| Wednesday, July 2, 2014, 3:41 a.m.

Fireworks can be fun, but they have the potential to be dangerous, too.

Experts recommend using caution with all fireworks, even ones that don't leave the ground or explode.

“There are precautions that need to be taken during the Fourth of July season,” said Glassport Citizens Hose Co. Chief Wayne Lewis.

While the fireworks industry says the purchase of fireworks has tended to increase through the years while injuries have decreased, Lewis said the injury rate still is sobering.

He said that last year, nationwide, 11,400 burn injuries from fireworks were reported.

“Kids under 15 accounted for 40 percent of the injuries,” the fire chief said.

Lewis said parents need to keep a close eye on children during the holiday, especially when fireworks are present.

“A sparkler can burn at temperatures up to 2,000 degrees,” Lewis said. “Parents need to be aware.”

A wet weather forecast should be helpful in reducing the risk of fires started by errant fireworks this year, said Lewis, but he said burn hazards persist.

“Backyard grilling should be kept in an open area. If there are a lot of kids around, keep them away from the grill,” Lewis said.

The chief said adults should check propane grills for leaks before operating and use caution when starting charcoal fires with lighter fluid.

Other safety tips to consider when using fireworks on Independence Day:

• Always use fireworks outside.

• Children should never handle fireworks. Only sober adults should handle and light them.

• Fireworks only should be used in a clear, open space and set off on a hard, flat surface.

• Don't carry fireworks in pockets.

• A connected hose, bucket of water or fire extinguisher should be close by when igniting fireworks.

• Dud fireworks should never be re-lit.

• Never use homemade fireworks.

• Point fireworks away from homes, brush and other flammable materials.

• Pet owners are advised to keep their pets indoors when fireworks are being discharged.

Eric Slagle is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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