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Beware the Dangers of Fireworks

Almost two-thirds of annual fireworks-related injuries happen in the 30 days centered on the 4th of July, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Fireworks are a traditional part of 4th of July festivities—but can also be dangerous.

Area firefighters have warned of the dangers of consumer fireworks and in Montgomery and Prince George's counties, consumer fireworks are illegal.

A recently released study from the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission revealed that last year, 65 percent of all fireworks-related injuries in the U.S. occurred in the 30-day period centered on the 4th of July.

About 46 percent of those injuries involved the hands, and 34 percent affected the head, face or eyes, the agency reported.

Injuries to the eyes are particularly serious.

According to Dr. Michael P. Grant, director of Oculoplastic Surgery and of the Eye and Orbital Trauma Center at Johns Hopkins' Wilmer Eye Institute, about 70 percent of fireworks-related serious eye injuries are caused by bottle rockets, and two-thirds of these cases happen at home.

To warn the public of the risks of fireworks, the American Academy of Ophthalmology of a 6-year-old boy whose eye was severely injured after he lit an M-80 firework that he found at home.

According to the organization, the victim underwent an immediate cornea transplant and lens replacement, and required several additional eye surgeries.

While some handheld sparklers and ground-based devices that shoot a sparkling fountain are legal in Baltimore County, the law prohibits any device that explodes, launches a projectile or moves along the ground under its own power.

According to the AAO, even legal fireworks can be dangerous. Sparklers burn at 1,200 degrees Farenheit, and ground-based devices can detonate prematurely when being lit, the group said.

Here are expert-recomended tips to avoid fireworks-related injuries:

  • Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.
  • Always have an adult closely supervise fireworks activities if older children are allowed to handle devices.
  • Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse.
  • Never try to relight or handle malfunctioning fireworks. Soak them with water and throw them away.
  • Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
  • Never put fireworks in glass containers, tin cans or clay pots—all of which can shatter.
  • Light fireworks one at a time, then move quickly to a safe distance.
  • Have a fire extinguisher, bucket of water or a garden hose on hand in case of misfire or other mishaps.

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