Fireworks warning

Fireworks are part of the Fourth of July. They are more available than ever in most areas. And this year, for obvious reasons, even some people who did not buy and set off their own pyrotechnics in the past may be tempted to use them to blow off some steam.

So long as no one blows off a finger, puts out an eye or starts a fire.

Virtually all types of fireworks can be purchased and used by consumers, even if they have to cut a corner or two of the law. Because so many communities have canceled Independence Day pyrotechnics shows this year — including Lake Placid and Saranac Lake — it will be tempting for many people to stage their own displays.

Go outside Saturday night and listen for a few minutes, if you want evidence of how widespread personal use of fireworks has become during recent years. We will be surprised if you do not hear explosions and perhaps even see a few skyrockets.

We hope you do not hear ambulance and fire truck sirens, too.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is warning people that it is still dry out there, that the recent rain has not made up for the dryness of June as a whole, and that eastern New York is under fire danger. Knowing people want to set of fireworks on or around July 4, the DEC recommended that people take the following precautions:

¯ Keep a bucket of water nearby to fully extinguish fireworks that don’t go off, or to use in case of fire.

¯ Soak spent and unused fireworks in water for a few hours before discarding.

¯ Never use illegal fireworks.

Then there is the danger of injury. Virtually any device qualifying as a pyrotechnic can cause harm. Obviously, some are more dangerous than others. Each year during the weeks before and after July 4, about 5,600 Americans are taken to hospital emergency rooms with serious injuries caused by fireworks. Nearly one in five of them suffer eye injuries. Some lose fingers.

Stop and think about that for a moment. During the month bracketing July 4, an average of about 180 people wind up in the emergency room each day because of fireworks injuries. The numbers will likely be higher this weekend.

What can you do to minimize the potential for someone getting hurt during your backyard pyrotechnics extravaganza? Several things, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

For starters, never let children set off fireworks, even under adult supervision. Just don’t do it.

Other CPSC recommendations, like the above, amount to using your common sense: Never try to relight fireworks that appear to have fizzled out. Never point or throw fireworks at another person. Keep a bucket of water handy. Don’t fire rockets in inhabited areas.

There are others, but you get the idea. If you plan to use fireworks this weekend, please be careful. Don’t send someone to the hospital.

Happy Fourth of July!


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