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For immediate release                                         June 28, 2001


Sharon Regional Health System offers fireworks safety tips for July 4th celebrations


Happy Fourth of July!

It is a great American tradition - gathering with family and friends to barbecue, eat ice cream and watch fireworks on the Fourth. Guess how many people sustain fireworks-related injuries each year?

It was 7,000 in 1998, the most recent year for which statistics were available. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, studying injury reports, has found that with legal fireworks, injuries are more often caused by misuse rather than malfunction. So, if fireworks are legal in your area and you want to celebrate with your own show this year, don't become a statistic - follow the rules!

Sergio Segarra, M.D., director of emergency medicine at Sharon Regional, suggests these fireworks safety basics:

Buy fireworks only from licensed, reputable suppliers.

Read and follow all warnings and instructions.

Never allow children to play with or ignite fireworks. Sparklers are designed for children, but adults should supervise.

Be sure other people are out of range before lighting fireworks. The "safe" range varies, but keep spectators at least 20 feet away.

Light fireworks only one at a time, outdoors, on a smooth, flat surface away from buildings, dry leaves, and flammable materials. Don't light them from metal or glass containers (for example, "bottle rockets").

The person doing the lighting should wear eye protection, footwear, and even protective gloves such those for gardening.

Never try to relight fireworks that have not fully functioned. Wait 15 minutes, then soak it in a bucket of water before throwing away. Dispose of unused fireworks the same way. Do not store them until next year!

Keep a garden hose or bucket of water in case of a malfunction or fire.