Independence Day is a holiday that brings forth many activities for people of all ages - cookouts, parades, family get-together and the like. And Independence Day usually is not celebrated in any other way except with fireworks.
This holiday, though, officials want parents and children alike to keep in mind that danger can come with fun, especially when dealing with fireworks.
According to a study of firework injuries by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, 18 deaths occurred over a three-year period (2000-2002) from fireworks. In 2002, during the 4th of July holiday, there were 5,700 injuries for which children younger than 15 accounted for half.
The study also shows that most injuries were to the hands, eyes and head areas.
Kraig Kinney of Putnam County Operation Life told the BannerGraphic that the most common injuries he has experienced are hand injuries.
"People usually do not allow enough time to get away [from fireworks], they use the fireworks incorrectly, or they put the fireworks in things such as glass containers or cans and things like that," Kinney said.
He said he has not seen many face injuries; they have all been on the arms and hands. He said this was most commonly provoked by people wanting to make their fireworks go higher or be louder.
Fire prevention officer Bob Campbell of the Greencastle Fire Department agreed.
"There's a lot of horse play involved with fireworks," he said. "With firecrackers, they don't let them go in time."
Both Kinney and Campbell stated that people have a tendency to shoot fireworks at each other, as well.
Campbell said bottle rocks and roman candles are the most popular fireworks when it comes to taking aim at another person.
"You throw the whole alcohol factor in there with the adults, too, there's usually lack of good judgement," he said.
Kinney added that a lot of the danger seems obvious, but when people "get to partying, they don't always use the best judgement."
Campbell stated he thought a lot of the injuries were due to a lack of common sense and maturity.
"A lot of kids under the age of 18 get a hold of [fireworks], and there's just a lack of maturity," he said. "If people would apply common sense to firework use, it would be a lot safer."
As for children, Campbell said injuries occur mostly because of no parental supervision. Even sparklers are dangerous, he said.
The Safety Commission's study showed that in 2002, sparklers caused 1,500 injuries, and firecrackers caused 1,000 injuries.
Campbell also suggested simple things such as not picking up a firework after it failed to go off.
"People would save a lot of heartache, as well, if they kept a fire extinguisher around, something handy," he added.
The common firework safety tips to keep in mind this Independence Day are as follows:
*Never let children handle, play with, or light any fireworks.
*Store fireworks in a cool, dry place away from the reach of children.
*Always purchase your fireworks from reliable, licensed fireworks dealers.
*Use in a clear, open area. Keep audience a safe distance away from the shooting site.
*Safety glasses are recommended for those individuals lighting the fireworks or those in close proximity to the fireworks.
*Do not alter any fireworks device or make your own fireworks.
*Light only one firework item at a time.
*Never attempt to re-light, alter or fix any "dud" firework item.
*Have a fire extinguisher, water supply, hose or bucket of water nearby.
*Be cautious of lighting any fireworks during strong wind conditions and light fireworks with prevailing wind blowing away from the spectators.
*Never smoke when handling fireworks.
According to both Greencastle and Cloverdale police departments, no local ordinances have gone into effect that supercede the state laws. State law calls for discharge of fireworks during the Independence Day holiday to only happen between 9 a.m. and 12 a.m. Firework discharge must conclude by 11 p.m. on all other days.