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Better safe than sorry with fireworks this 4th
Special to the Ellis County Press
Picnics, parades, family gatherings and fireworks mark many traditional Independence Day celebrations in Ellis County. It's Bristol's time to shine with its annual 4th of July festivities, including an aerial fireworks show.

Unfortunately, there is another all too common occurrance - injuries from fireworks. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports approximately 8,500 people were injured from fireworks in the United States in 1998. Males are three times as likely to suffer injuries from fireworks than are females and more than 40 percent of those injured from fireworks are 14 years old or younger.

The pattern is similar in Texas. During the period 1996-1998 more than half of all reported fireworks related injuries occurred around the Fourth of July, according to data from the Texas Trauma Registry of the Texas Department of Health's Injury Epidemiology and Surveillance Program. All but two of the patients reported to the registry were male, and 60 percent were under age 18. Most patients suffered burns to the face and hands.

Not all of those injured were lighting the fireworks, some were bystanders who were too close.

Fireworks safety tips

Public fireworks displays run by professionals are generally safer than using fireworks yourself. However, since fireworks are legal in Ellis County and you decide to use them, follow these CPSC guidelines:

Always ...

• Follow all state and local laws.

• Buy from reputable dealers. Ask to see their permit.

• Read all labels, warnings and instructions with each firework before using.

• Supervise children ages 15 and older closely when they use fireworks.

• Use fireworks outdoors on a flat, smooth surface away from houses, flammable materials, trees and dry grass.

• Have a bucket of water or hose close by for emergencies.

• Light only one firework at a time and keep unused fireworks away from flames.

• Store fireworks in a cool, dry place away from anything that could light them.

• Move to a safe distance after igniting a firework.

• Stay at a safe distance if you are a bystander.

Never ...

• Light fireworks in a container.

• Relight a 'dud.' Douse it with water instead.

• Aim or shoot fireworks at people, buildings or cars.

• Carry fireworks in your pocket.

• Use alcohol or drugs while lighting fireworks.

• Modify fireworks or make homemade ones.

• Put any part of your body over the firework while lighting it.

• Allow children under age 15 to play with fireworks.

Injuries from fireworks can be painful, sometimes disfiguring and occasionally deadly. Following a few simple safety guidelines can reduce the risk of harm.

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Nelson Propane

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