Experts, officials urge caution with fireworks

Published 10:51 pm Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Michael Mason with Pyro Productions Inc. sets up for Wednesday’s fireworks show at Memorial Stadium. Gates open at 6 p.m., and the program is set to begin at 7:30 p.m. -- Taylor Holland

What little child does not want to watch fireworks explode? But unfortunately fireworks can be the cause of total blindness for some children. The Alabama Academy for Ophthalmology has created an EyeSmart list of safety tips when dealing with fireworks because they report that out of the 9,000 firework-related injuries each year, 21 percent of those are eye injuries and more than half of the victims are young children or teenagers.

Deploying fireworks is illegal in Selma city limits and considered a Class C misdemeanor but legal in Dallas and surrounding counties like Marengo, Perry and Wilcox.

Please follow these tips from both the Alabama Academy for Opthalmology and Fire Captain Graham of Selma to stay safe when using fireworks and avoiding eye injuries:

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Never let children play with fireworks of any type and this includes bottle rockets and M-80s. Even Sparklers can be dangerous burning at typically 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit and cause 27 percent of all firework injuries.

View fireworks from at least 500 feet away and leave the lighting to adults and professionals. Captain Graham suggests having a designated area where the fireworks will be launched from that is a safe distance from spectators and children. “It is so hot and dry this summer that the chance of a fire starting from fireworks is high,” Graham said. “Have someone stand by in the designated area with a hose just in case.” He also suggests bringing only some of the fireworks into the designated area at a time to minimize the chance of an explosion.

Use fireworks as they are intended. Many people try to hold firecrackers and things like roman candles in their hands and shoot them off but this is very dangerous. Also putting explosives and fireworks inside of anything than other than their intended launch container is highly discouraged such as using a bottle to launch something. “If you do that you could easily burn someone or put an eye out,” Graham said. Some people like to even tie several fireworks together in order to get a big boom but Graham said that is highly dangerous as well.

Never fire off a dud. If you find unexploded fireworks do not touch them. Contact the local fire department so that they can deal with it properly. Trying to re-light the dud could be dangerous if it isn’t in fact a dud.

Always use common sense. Fireworks are not something to play around with they are explosives and one in six firework injuries result in total blindness. One night of horsing around could end very badly if people are not careful and take precaution.