Most southwest Iowans are settled back, ready to enjoy yet another long, relaxing holiday weekend. Early predictions called for record numbers of Americans to take to the roads this weekend, and those who plan to travel were urged to be extra cautious in their driving habits.

But the Fourth of July holiday adds still other threats not normally associated with these long holiday weekends.

For many, Independence Day celebrations aren’t the same without fireworks. Unfortunately — and it’s an every year thing — some people’s holidays are marred by fireworks-related injuries.

On average, 180 to 190 people per day seek emergency care for fireworks-related injuries during the month surrounding the Fourth of July, according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. In 2018, 9,100 people were injured and five fatally wounded by fireworks or fires ignited by fireworks, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Of particular concern is the fact that more than half of those who went to emergency rooms for treatment of fireworks-related injuries were younger than 20 years old. While the types of injuries varied, the majority involved burns to the hands and fingers.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission offers a list of safety tips for those not content to celebrate the Fourth watching commercial fireworks shows:

• Never allow young children to play with or light fireworks.

• Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities, including children celebrating with sparklers.

• Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse.

• Never try to re-light 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.

• Never shoot fireworks 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.

Remember, too, that the Fourth of July is one of the most stressful and potentially dangerous times of the year for pets. Even pets that aren’t afraid of thunder or other loud noises could be affected by fireworks and are often frightened and panicked by the cumulative effects of the fireworks. Care for them accordingly.

We’re hopeful that southwest Iowans will enjoy the long weekend and take the steps necessary to avoid becoming a tragic statistic.

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