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Fireworks: "Very Serious Business in Michigan"

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Friday, July 1, 2016   

LANSING, Mich. – The splendor of fireworks in the night sky is the hallmark of any great Fourth of July gathering, but experts warn that disaster can result without the proper procedures.

Michigan State Fire Marshal Julie Secontine says fireworks should be lit one at a time, on a driveway or paved surface at least 20 feet away from any structure. And because conditions are so dry in Michigan right now, she urges extra caution when using bottle rockets and other fireworks that are airborne.

"This is very serious business," says Secontine. "There are explosive materials in fireworks – and they're fun, and we want you to enjoy them safely – but the safety component cannot be emphasized enough."

No matter what the type of firework, she says a bucket of water or a hose should always be within arm's reach. State law requires fireworks only be discharged on a person's own property, and never while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Another important tip, says University of Michigan emergency physician Dr. Brad Uren, is to never re-light a firework that doesn't ignite or shoot off properly.

"Those are the injuries that I see most often – something that malfunctions, someone gets too close to it in trying to set it off again, and tragedy happens," he says. "No backyard fireworks display is worth losing your life, your fingers or your vision."

He also reminds parents that while sparklers may seem like innocent fun, they are also dangerous.

"They burn at 2,000 to 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit, which is the kind of temperatures the Space Shuttle might see during reentry, and that is not something that should be taken lightly around children," he stresses. "If you're going to hand a sparkler to your child, make sure they know how to handle that responsibly."

According to the organization Prevent Blindness, 1,400 injuries were caused by sparklers in 2014, and 40 percent of all fireworks-related injuries involved children under age 15.

Dr. Uren says the safest way to enjoy fireworks is to watch a professional display.




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