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Remember to practice firework safety ahead of the holiday

Firework safety tips as the holiday nears
Firework safety tips as the holiday nears 02:11

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - Fourth of July celebrations are known for fireworks, big and small.

But there's an alarming uptick in fireworks-related injuries, landing thousands of Americans in the hospital.

Here are some important tips to keep you safe this holiday weekend.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission is reminding Americans to play it safe this Independence Day.

A new CPSC report showed that fireworks-related injuries are up 25% over the past 15 years. Last year, there were at least nine deaths and an estimated 11,500 emergency room visits.

Those numbers are down from a peak in 2020.

"The overall trend is still high, and we want to make sure that people understand that fireworks are explosives. They are dangerous," said Alex Hoehn-Saric, the chair of the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Just recently a 14-year-old in the Seattle area lost one hand and injured the other while playing with fireworks.

The CPSC warns fireworks aren't for children - even sparklers.

"They burn at about 2,000 degrees. So, it's like handing a blow torch to a child," Hoehn-Saric added.

During the height of the pandemic, many cities canceled holiday fireworks. And more consumers put on their own backyard shows. But this July 4th, public pyrotechnics are much easier to find.

Experts say attending a professional display is the safer way to celebrate.

If you do plan to use fireworks at home, remember the acronym "WOW":

"W" - for water - have it handy to douse fires.

"O" - for one at a time. Never light off multiple fireworks.

"W" - for walk away once it's lit.

And never make or use illegal fireworks.

"The fuse burns way too quickly, or it has too large a load in it, which can make the explosion much larger than you think," Hoehn-Saric said.

This year, July 4th falls on a Monday, extending the opportunity for celebration, and potential mishaps.

Be sure to make sure fireworks are legal in your location, and only buy and set off those labeled for consumer use.

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