By Hayley M. Cook
WILLIAMSON – The Fourth of July is quickly approaching, which means the sky will once again light up with bright, colorful fireworks for everyone to enjoy.
Fireworks are usually a staple in Independence Day celebrations and festivities, but many people may not realize how dangerous improperly handling fireworks can be.
Without proper safety precautions, Independence Day celebrations can end in disaster. In 2011, according to statistics for that year, fireworks caused four deaths, 9,600 injuries, nearly 17,800 fires and $32 million in property damage.
The Electronic Security Association has released some helpful information for those purchasing fireworks, and recommends that consumers follow these tips from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
People should only purchase fireworks that are legal and designed for consumer use, and no one should attempt to make their own fireworks at home.
Fireworks should only be used outdoors, never ignited on dry grass, and never pointed or thrown at another person.
Children should be closely supervised around fireworks. Sparklers, usually considered a safe fireworks item for younger children, pose a serious risk of injury. They burn at temperatures of nearly 2,000 degrees, which is hot enough to burn some metals.
The CPSC warns to never place any part of the body over a fireworks device while lighting it, and to back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting the fuse.
Fireworks should be lighted one a time, and consumers should never try to reignite or pick up fireworks after they have not fully ignited.
Unused fireworks should be kept away from the firing areas at all times. After fireworks have finished burning, they should be completely doused in water, then disposed of in a metal trash bin.
Consumers are urged to keep a bucket of water, garden hose or fire extinguisher nearby in case of a fire.
Fireworks safety is a serious matter, and the licensed sellers who have set up beside the road in the Williamson area are share safety tips with their customers.
Brandon Lincoln and Reese Kemp, who are set up in the Wal-Mart parking lot, stressed the importance of buying from reputable sellers.
“If your products are damaged, wet or expired, you can be dealing with unsafe fireworks,” Lincoln said. “You want to make sure you are buying from sellers who have good, new products.”
Lincoln also said an open area is extremely important for using fireworks.
“You wouldn’t want to set off fireworks in town or in a close-knit neighborhood because it could cause damages,” he said. “Try asking a relative or friend who has an open yard area if you can come there for the Fourth of July.”
Bruce Coley, who is selling fireworks along U.S. Highway 119 in front of Subway, said, “Warnings are there for a reason, to protect the public. Everyone should read the specifications and instructions that are on the packaging labels of these products.”
Coley said no one under 18 should be allowed to purchase fireworks, and adult supervision around children is extremely important when it comes to fireworks safety.
“Fireworks are beautiful and very safe if used properly,” he said. “If not, they can be extremely dangerous and destructive.”