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Fireworks: Leave the kabooms to the pros

A large firework bursts over a shoreline at dusk. Leave it to the pros. Backyard fireworks just aren't safe.

July 4, 2019—It's the Fourth of July, and the traditional way to celebrate is with fireworks. But it's best to leave this part of the party to the professionals.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, an estimated 11,100 people went to the emergency room with injuries from fireworks in 2016. Children younger than 15 accounted for 31% of the injuries. And sparklers—often considered the least dangerous of fireworks—caused an estimated 900 injuries.

It's also worth noting: Fireworks aren't legal in some communities. But if your area allows them to be sold, the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) advises you to resist the urge to buy.

If you decide to purchase your own fireworks anyway, here are some important do's and don'ts from ACEP:

  • Do buy fireworks from reputable dealers.
  • Do read warning labels and follow all instructions.
  • Don't carry fireworks in a pocket.
  • Don't wear loose clothing while using fireworks.
  • Do have a knowledgeable adult supervise fireworks use.
  • Do keep a bucket of water or fire extinguisher handy.
  • Do light fireworks one at a time.
  • Don't light fireworks indoors or near other objects.
  • Don't lean over fireworks when trying to light the fuse.
  • Don't set off fireworks in glass or metal containers.
  • Don't point or throw fireworks at another person.
  • Don't give any fireworks to small children—including sparklers, which can burn at 2,000 degrees.
  • Don't try to relight or pick up fireworks that didn't fully ignite.
  • Do dispose of all fireworks by soaking them in water before placing them in the trash.

And remember that while you may enjoy the booming sound of fireworks going off, pets may very likely fear it. So keep them safely inside the house, perhaps with some music playing to drown out the kabooms. Be sure your pets' ID tags are updated just in case they somehow do manage to escape out the door. And tomorrow, check your yard for remnants of fireworks before letting your pets outside. Fireworks contain toxic chemicals and heavy metals that could make pets sick.

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