Staying safe over the Fourth of July

Published 1:57 pm Wednesday, July 3, 2019

With the Fourth of July upon us, people are buying fireworks and setting them off.

While most people enjoy the bang and the pyrotechnic display, they are urged to use caution when setting them off to prevent a trip to the emergency room.

“Let me first say, Ohio law does not permit the use of any firework that explodes or flies,” said Ironton Fire Department Captain Jeff Joseph. “If you are going to use fireworks, please follow the directions on the package.”

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He also recommends that any fireworks need to be set off a safe distance from all people, vehicles, structures and animals.

“Persons using fireworks may be held liable for any damages or injuries that fireworks may cause,” Joseph said.

And if a firework does hurt anyone, get immediate medical attention. Eye injuries are especially dangerous and Joseph said not to rub an eye injury.

And if the firework starts a fire, call 911 immediately.

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost echoed that while Ohioans can buy fireworks in Ohio, not all of them are legal to set off in Ohio.

“In small towns and large cities alike, fireworks will light up Ohio nights throughout the week,” Yost said. “Just make sure your own backyard isn’t ground zero for those red, white and blue pyrotechnics.”

A resident over the age of 18 can purchase fireworks from a licensed dealer in Ohio, according to Ohio Revised Code, but they are prohibited from setting them off in Ohio unless he or she is a licensed exhibitor of fireworks.

Joseph had several recommendations for using fireworks.

• Fireworks packaged in brown paper are made for professional displays, avoid buying or using them.

• Always have an adult supervise firework activities, that includes sparklers and smoke bombs.

• Back up a safe distance after lighting a firework.

• Never point or throw a firework at another person or pet.

• Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose nearby in case of fire. Soak fireworks in water before discarding in trash.

• Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.

• Never set off fireworks in glass or metal containers.

• Never try to relight or pick up fireworks that failed to go off.

• Do not place any part of your body directly over a firework when lighting them.

• Make sure the fireworks you buy are legal for your area before using them.

• Never fold any type of fireworks while lighting it, except for sparklers.

In its 2018 annual report on fireworks, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimated that 5,600 fireworks-related injuries were treated during a one-month period between June 22 and July 22, 2018. That’s nearly two-thirds of the 9,100 fireworks-related injuries reported in 2018.

“As Ohio’s 237 hospitals join their local communities in celebrating the Fourth of July holiday this week, we encourage Ohioans and visitors to our state to follow all guidelines for the use of fireworks,” said Mike Abrams, Ohio Hospital Association president and CEO. “Several dozen of our fellow citizens last July were treated in our emergency rooms because of unsafe handling of fireworks. Our hospitals are here to serve our communities 24/7, but let’s enjoy the July 4 festivities without the ER visits this year.”

The CPSC report states, “the parts of the body most often injured were hands and fingers (an estimated 28 percent); legs (an estimated 24 percent); eyes (an estimated 19 percent); head, face, and ears (an estimated 15 percent); and arms (an estimated 4 percent).”