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Authorities Urge Caution with Fireworks PDF Print E-mail
Written by Alex Garcia Sun Contributing Writer   
Thursday, 28 June 2012 03:24

They Recommend Attending A Public Show

ALEX GARCIA/SFVS

An Explosive Topic -- A Los Angeles police sergeant displays a variety of fireworks that are illegal to own and set off in the city limits.

Last year illegal fireworks apparently sparked a half-acre fire on July 4 in Chatsworth that reportedly caused serious injuries to a man and a woman. Witnesses told firefighters they heard a thunderous explosion before the fire erupted.

Incidents of this sort seem to appear every Independence Day, when people disregard warnings about the use of illegal fireworks and put themselves, and others, in danger.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, approximately 21,692 people were treated for injuries related to fireworks in 2011.

"Many people view these mini-explosives as harmless, when in fact they can be very dangerous to people of all ages," said William Obremskey, MD, spokesperson for the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons.

"Take it from one who picked up a 'dud' as a kid and suffered minor burns. You can also lose a finger, damage your eyes or worse. To avoid injury, people should not use fireworks at home, but instead find a park or outdoor location that showcases fireworks."

A report published by The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) earlier this month said there are more fires on a typical Fourth of July than any other day of the year, and that fireworks account for two out of five of those fires, more than any other cause of fires.

"Thousands of people are treated in U.S. emergency rooms each year because of incidents involving consumer fireworks and many times these injuries are extremely painful and require long-term recovery. Using consumer fireworks is simply not worth the risk," said James Shannon, NFPA president.

The report said that in 2010, fireworks caused an estimated 15,500 reported fires, including 1,100 structure fires, 300 vehicle fires, and 14,100 outside and other fires. All that accounts for $36 million in property damage.

Fireworks are illegal in City of Los Angeles.

Besides the danger to structures and physical health, there's also the risk of landing in jail.

"All personal fireworks remain illegal in the City of Los Angeles," said Los Angeles Fire Department spokesperson Matt Spence.

"We encourage everybody to make plans to attend one of the many public fireworks displays around Los Angeles," Spence added.

The problem in Los Angeles, however, is that several independent cities in the county do allow the sale and possession of so-called "Safe and Sane" fireworks, which Spence calls a "misnomer."

"We consider those personal fireworks and they remain illegal," Spence noted. "All fireworks include inherent dangers. Anytime you have to light something that carries energy to explode. There are all sorts of injuries that can result from playing, even with sane and safe fireworks."

He said even the innocent looking sparklers burn at 2,000 degrees.

"Safe and sane fireworks account for 36 percent of firework injuries we see in the emergency room," Spence said.

But even Spence admits that, "What's the 4th of July without fireworks?"

"We recommend doing it safely, smartly, and going to a public fireworks show is the best way because you get the full benefit and full enjoyment," he said.

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Last Updated on Thursday, 28 June 2012 19:03