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Holiday celebrants urged to put safety first

By Staff | Jun 29, 2017

With the Fourth of July coming up next week, Cape Coral residents may be considering buying fireworks to add a little boom to their holiday celebration.

However, the Cape Coral Fire Department encourages the public to leave those explosions to the trained professionals and instead attend a public fireworks display, like the Storm Smart Red, White & Boom event. It will be held on Tuesday from 5 to 10:30 p.m. at the foot of the Cape Coral Bridge.

“There is an inherent risk that goes along with them,” Andrea Schuch, the spokeswoman for the fire department, said. “Sparklers burn 1,000 degrees, so even they can cause some serious injuries.”

She noted that fireworks that explode or leave the ground are illegal within the city.

The National Fire Protection Association reported that on average, fireworks start about 18,500 fires each year, including 1,300 total structure fires, 300 vehicle fires and 16,900 outside and other fires. They result in three deaths and 40 civilian injuries, along with $43 million in direct property damage.

In 2015, U.S. emergency rooms treated an estimated 11,900 people for fireworks-related injuries. The NFPA stated that 51 percent of the injuries were to the extremities and 41 percent were to the head.

Two-thirds of the injuries were burns, and children younger than age 15 accounted for one-quarter of the injuries. More than half of the injuries incurred by children under 5 were caused by sparklers.

Still, for those who choose to light that wick, officials offered up some basic safety tips.

“Always only use them outdoors,” Schuch said.

“Follow the instructions on the fireworks,” she added. “Don’t just make it up as you go along.”

Stay away from any brush, homes or other structures and vegetation.

“You always want to have a clear area where you’re using the fireworks,” Schuch said.

Have a garden hose or bucket of water on hand.

“You want to have a source of extinguishment nearby,” she said.

Do not approach, stand over or pick up “dud” fireworks.

“Dud fireworks can be very dangerous,” Schuch said.

Spray them with water and wait 15 minutes, then soak them in water before disposing of them.

“Never ignite fireworks from your hand or any other part of your body,” she said.

Do not prop up fireworks in glass bottles or containers before igniting them.

“Use them on the ground,” Schuch said.

If there are children around, adult supervision is a must.

“Children should not handle fireworks, even sparklers,” she said.

Those who choose to consume alcohol should also avoid using fireworks.

“We want people to have a good time on the Fourth (of July), but we want them to be safe, as well,” Schuch said. “A trip to the hospital is definitely not in anyone’s plans for the Fourth of July.”

For more information, visit the NFPA at: www.nfpa.org.