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The Editorial

    Mississippi Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney, who also serves as State Fire Marshal, and Water Valley Fire Chief Mike Defer urge residents exercise special caution when using fireworks over the upcoming Fourth of July holiday.

    In other words, don’t blow your hand off or put your eye out. Every year concerned officials and the press warn of the dangers and every year it gets worse. Over the last 10 years, there has been an upward trend in injuries and 11 deaths were reported nationwide in 2007.

    Over 10,000 people were seriously injured last year while using fireworks and information from the Consumer Products Safety Commission shows that burns were the most common injuries, accounting for more than half of the incidents. The parts of the body most often injured were hands, eyes, and legs.

    Of the approximately 7,000 fireworks-related injuries each year in the United States, approximately 1,400 are eye injuries caused by consumer fireworks. About one-third of these injuries result in permanent eye damage, and one-fourth in permanent vision loss or blindness. Almost one in twenty victims lose all useful vision, or require removal of the eye.

    Chaney and Defer agree that the safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a show put on by professionals who are trained to handle fireworks. But, for those of us who insist on putting on our own show, here are some safety guides for using fireworks correctly:

• Observe local laws. Regulations prohibiting the use of fireworks may apply in non-municipal areas. If you are

unsure whether it is legal to use fireworks in your area, first check with local officials.

• Use common sense and always read and follow the directions on each firework.

• Never point or throw fireworks at another person.

• Buy from reliable fireworks sellers. Store them in a cool, dry place.  

• Always have an adult present when shooting fireworks.

• Put used fireworks in a bucket of water and have a hose ready.

• Only use fireworks outdoors, away from homes, dry grass, and trees.

• Light only one item at a time and keep a safe distance.

• Never experiment or attempt to make your own fireworks.

• Never re-ignite malfunctioning fireworks.

• Never give fireworks to small children.

• Never carry fireworks in your pocket.

• Never shoot fireworks in metal or glass containers.

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