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How to prevent fireworks-related injuries, fires

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

Bringing in the 2020 new year, the St. Amant and 5th Ward Volunteer Fire Departments are warning of the dangers of fireworks that injure thousands of people every year.

Officials say that on average, 180 people go to the emergency room every day with fireworks-related injuries in the weeks leading up to New Years celebrations, and more than 16,000 reported fires are started by fireworks annually. Additionally, roughly two-thirds of all annual fireworks injuries happen around the New Year’s celebration.

Most of the injuries are burns and are linked to familiar devices like sparklers, stated Chief Officer James E. LeBlanc. "Think before you light that firework and make sure that everyone around the area is safe and it's in a safe place in case something does happen and it does fall over," LeBlanc said.

In recent years, fireworks have been one of the leading causes of serious injuries that require emergency treatment in a hospital ER. Fireworks can cause severe burns, fractures or scars, and can even result in death or life-long disfigurement. The thousands of serious injuries that occur each year typically involve damage to the eyes, head or hands, with the risk of fireworks-related injuries highest for children 5 - 14. Even though novelty fireworks, such as fountains and sparklers, are generally considered to be "safe", they can reach temperatures of more than 1,000° F, and account for 36% of all emergency room fireworks-related injuries.

The St. Amant and 5th Ward Volunteer Fire Departments offer the following tips to stay safe:

--Do not allow young children to play with fireworks. Sparklers, a firework often considered by many to be the ideal "safe" device for the young, burn at very high temperatures and should be not be handled by young children.

--Older children should be permitted to use fireworks only under close adult supervision. Do not allow any running or horseplay.

--Set off fireworks outdoors in a clear area, away from houses, dry leaves, or grass and other flammable materials.

--Keep a bucket of water nearby for emergencies and for pouring on fireworks that fail to ignite or explode.

--Do not try to relight or handle malfunctioning fireworks. Soak them with water and throw them away.

--Be sure other people are out of range before lighting fireworks.

--Never light fireworks in a container, especially a glass or metal container.

--Keep unused fireworks away from firing areas.

--Store fireworks in a cool, dry place.

--Check instructions for special storage directions.

--Observe local laws.

--Never have any portion of your body directly over a firework while lighting.

--Do not experiment with homemade fireworks.

Also, don't use fireworks while under the influence of alcohol, and ensure all burning material is completely extinguished afterward.

Contributed by St. Amant / 5th Ward VFD – Ascension Parish