Celebrate Safely

As the Fourth of July holiday approaches, the Wheeling Fire Department recommends that it is best to leave your holiday fireworks enjoyment to the professionals.

Assistant Chief Ed Geisel Sr. warns that fireworks are dangerous. He said the Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends some basic safety steps be taken for those who decide to use consumer fireworks over the holiday.

A study shows fireworks were involved in an estimated 9,600 injuries treated in hospital emergency rooms during the Fourth of July season in 2011 alone. According to the study, most of those injuries would not have occurred if the fireworks had been used under close adult supervision and basic safety steps had been taken.

Geisel said people should not be using fireworks that are illegal anyway.

“It is most definitely best to leave fireworks, anything that is fired to the professionals,” said Geisel. “In West Virginia, cherry bombs, festival balls or shots, any type of sky rockets, Roman candles, M-80s, firecrackers – they are all banned and that’s what’s illegal,” he added.

Geisel said even “sparklers” are dangerous, as they can reach 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit. He said they can causes severe burns and easily catch clothing on fire if not used properly. He was also quick to point out that if you use fireworks where houses are in close proximity, it can put others at risk.

The National Council on Fireworks Safety recommends that parents and caretakers should not allow young children to use fireworks, while teens should be closely supervised when using any type of fireworks.

The council urges Americans to follow common sense safety rules if they decide to use fireworks during their holiday celebrations.

Some of those rules include: read the warning labels and performance descriptions before igniting; alcohol and fireworks do not mix; fireworks should only be used outdoors; always have water ready if you are shooting fireworks; obey local laws; if fireworks are illegal where you live – do not use them; wear safety glasses whenever using fireworks; never re-light a “dud” firework; wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water and soak spent fireworks with water before placing them in an outdoor garbage can; never attempt to alter or modify consumer fireworks and use them only in the manner in which they were intended; and report illegal explosives to the fire or police department.