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Fun to disaster in the snap of a firecracker

Lexington, SC (Paul Kirby) Wednesday is the Fourth of July, a time for families to come together and enjoy swimming, food, drinks, and often in SC, fireworks. Most are very legal here where as in other states, especially the ones north of us, they aren’t. For lots of people it just wouldn’t be the 4th without them and they can be a lot of fun provided you use some common sense and follow the instructions provided with the products. When you don’t, a fun day with family could quickly turn into a night sitting in the emergency room of the nearest hospital. It also might mean a visit from the fire service that indicates the neighbors aren’t happy and you could be on the hook for damages you’ve caused as a result of your, “harmless fun.”

In an article located in the website www.insurancejournal.com, it says that an estimated 7,600 of the total 11,000 fireworks-related injuries in 2016 were treated in hospital emergency departments during the period between June 18, 2016 and July 18, 2016, according to a report on 2016 by the Consumer Products Safety Commission and its National Electronic Injury Surveillance System. Now that’s a lot of “uh ohs” and “hey watch this one” that went bad quick. To prevent becoming the star in some of these statistics, there are some simple rules you should follow. These come from the very informative website www.kidshealth.org.

  • Kids should never play with fireworks. Things like firecrackers, rockets, and sparklers are just too dangerous. If you give kids sparklers, make sure they keep them outside and away from the face, clothing, and hair. Sparklers can reach 1,800°F (982°C) — hot enough to melt gold.

  • Buy only legal fireworks (legal fireworks have a label with the manufacturer's name and directions; illegal ones are unlabeled), and store them in a cool, dry place. Illegal fireworks usually go by the names M-80, M100, blockbuster, or quarterpounder. These explosives were banned in 1966, but still account for many fireworks injuries.

  • Never try to make your own fireworks.

  • Always use fireworks outside and have a bucket of water and a hose nearby in case of accidents.

  • Steer clear of others setting off fireworks. They can backfire or shoot off in the wrong direction.

  • Never throw or point fireworks at someone, even as a joke.

  • Don't hold fireworks in your hand or have any part of your body over them while lighting. Wear eye protection, and don't carry fireworks in your pocket — the friction could set them off.

  • Point fireworks away from homes and keep away from brush and leaves and flammable substances. The National Fire Protection Association estimates that local fire departments respond to more 50,000 fires caused by fireworks each year.

  • Light one firework at a time (not in glass or metal containers), and never relight a dud.

  • Don't allow kids to pick up pieces of fireworks after an event. Some may still be ignited and can explode at any time.

  • Soak all fireworks in a bucket of water before throwing them in the trash can.

  • Think about your pet. Animals have sensitive ears and can be very frightened or stressed by the Fourth of July and other big celebrations. Keep pets indoors to reduce the risk that they'll run loose or get injured.

  • Lastly, this is one that The Ledger staff is adding. Don’t forget our men and women that have served our country in active combat. Some of them may be suffering from PTSD and the sound of fireworks can cause great anxiety. Be a good neighbor and a good citizen and remember these people as well.

In order to be fire safe with fireworks, the best advise is to know where they are landing. Try to avoid dry grassy areas if at all possible. Even if we’ve recently had rain followed by a good breeze, the grass may be dried out. It’s like having a hair dryer blow your hair dry; the grass and breeze are the same.

First, always call 911 if a fire starts. Then, make sure you have some basic tools and equipment ready before you start trying to put the fire out. Use a water hose that’s pre-connected to a source, a bucket already filled, and keep a shovel and a rake handy. You don’t need to be scrambling for these items after the fire is spreading. If one or two of your fireworks start a small fire, stop! It’s just too dry and continuing to fire them is just plain dumb. Are you dumb? I sure hope not.

The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to go to Gilbert and enjoy the Lexington County Peach Festival where the pro’s do all the work and it doesn't burn a penny of your money. They'll give you a great show. The fire service will be there standing by and believe me, they know what they’re doing if a fire starts. Be safe, stay out the hospital, and have a wonderful Fourth of July!

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