Enjoy the Fourth of July, but leave fireworks to the professionals


SUN Columnist

Everyone loves a good fireworks display over the Fourth of July. Whether it is the sparkle of the bright lights or the thunderous boom of the explosion, there is no denying the thrill that fireworks can bring to an Independence Day celebration. Unfortunately, when consumers get their hands on professional fireworks, the results can be deadly. In 2012, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) received reports of four people who were killed by either professional-grade or homemade firework devices, while an estimated 9,600 were injured.

A special study conducted by the CPSC in June 2012 found that 65 percent of all firework injuries in 2011 were sustained during the 30 days surrounding the Independence Day holiday. More than half of these injuries were the result of unexpected ignition of the device or consumers not using fireworks as intended. Firework injuries most often reported are burns to the hands and head, including the eyes, face and ears. According to the special study, sparklers, firecrackers and aerial devices were associated with the most incidents.

So, if fireworks are a part of your Independence Day celebration, attend a professional display here in Pagosa Springs (fire danger permitting) or wherever you are celebrating the holiday, but do not risk personal injury by setting off your own display. Have a fun and safe holiday.

Be careful with campfires and barbecues

In addition to fireworks, the Fourth of July is also a time for camping with family and friends and gathering together for barbecues on the patio. Even though, at the time of submitting this article, there are no fire restrictions, it is very important to pay very close attention to potential fire danger when lighting any kind of fire outdoors. The U.S. Fire Administration offers the following safety tips for campfires and barbecues.

Campfire safety tips

Build campfires away from dry grass and leaves and use fire pits wherever they are available.

Keep campfires small, and don’t let them get out of hand.

Keep plenty of water and a shovel around to douse the fire when you are done. Stir it and douse it with water again.

Never leave campfires unattended.

Barbecue safety tips

Before using a grill, check the connection between the propane tank and the fuel line. Make sure the tubes where the air and gas mix are not blocked.

Do not overfill the propane tank.

Do not wear loose clothing while cooking at a barbecue.

Be careful when using lighter fluid. Do not add fluid to an already lit fire because the flame can flashback up into the container and explode.

Keep all matches and lighters away from children. Teach your children to report any loose matches or lighters to an adult immediately and supervise children around outdoor grills.

Dispose of hot coals properly. Douse them with plenty of water and stir them to ensure that the fire is out. Never place them in plastic, paper or wooden containers.

Never grill in enclosed areas, as carbon monoxide could be produced.

Make sure everyone knows to “Stop, Drop and Roll” in case a piece of clothing does catch fire. Call 9-1-1 or your local emergency number if a burn warrants serious medical attention.

CPR and first aid

CPR and first aid certification classes are now being offered monthly by the CSU Extension office on the second Monday and Wednesday of each month from 6-10 p.m.

Anyone needing to receive or renew certification can register by calling the Extension office at 264-5931. We will also schedule classes on additional dates with five or more registrations. Cost for the classes is $80 for combined CPR/first aid and $55 for individual CPR or first aid. The type of first aid information provided will vary by the needs of the audience. Group rates are available. Call the Extension office for information at 264-5931.