Safety should be a priority when you set off those sparklers and other novelty fireworks this Fourth of July, state and local officials said.
"There are injuries and fires each year from fireworks," said Al Christie, South Dakota fire marshal. "People should be very careful and use common sense."
In 2010, three people in the United States died, and about 8,600 were treated in emergency rooms for fireworks-related injuries, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Aberdeen Fire Marshal Mike Thompson said the exact number of fireworks-related injuries is unknown, but he estimates there are a few each year.
"A lot of the time with those incidents, people are transported to the hospital in personal vehicles," he added. "That makes it harder to get an exact number of fireworks mishaps. The ones we do hear about are usually after people have been treated and released, if we hear about it at all."
Thompson said common fireworks-related injuries include minor abrasions to second- and third-degree burns, to the loss of fingertips and serious burns to the eyes.
"In most cases, accidents happen when people aren't thinking things through or not following the directions as listed on the fireworks," Thompson said.
Homemade fireworks are another big reason for accidents, he said.
"They're illegal and a huge risk," he said.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, homemade fireworks are highly unpredictable, and most people are unaware of the potential damage they could cause. In 2008, a Brookings man died after his homemade fireworks explosed.
Christie and Thompson agreed that the best advice is to follow instructions on fireworks products, use common sense and avoid using them in places where a fire could start.
"Having a source of water, and always supervising children with fireworks, even with sparklers, are smart moves," Thompson said.
Along with safety precautions, Christie urges people to be aware of local fireworks laws. In Aberdeen, it's illegal to shoot off fireworks in town or within one mile of city limits. The offense is a class 2 misdemeanor punishable by up to a $500 fine, 30 days in jail or both. In addition, residents must be at least one mile from city properties, including Wylie Park, the wastewater treatment plant and the water treatment plant, to shoot them off.
Fireworks as part of Independence Day celebrations can be sold and discharged through Tuesday in South Dakota.
Those who aren't setting off their own fireworks can watch the public display during Wylie Park's Fourth of July celebration will begin at dusk Monday.
- Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.
- Avoid buying fireworks that are packaged in brown paper because this is often a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays and that they could pose a danger to consumers.
- Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities.
- Parents don't realize that young children suffer injuries from sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 — hot enough to melt some metals.Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse.
- Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.Never try to relight or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully.
- Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
- Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.
- Light fireworks one at a time; then, move back quickly.
- Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.
- After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding it to prevent a trash fire.
- Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them.
Source: U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission