Show your love of country this July 4th – just be safe doing it

Hot dogs, parades, red, white and blue, and fireworks – it's how most of us will spend our Fourth of July holiday. Almost everyone enjoys fireworks, particularly during July 4th celebrations.

The National Council on Fireworks Safety has recommended that if you buy fireworks to for your own private use, make sure you buy them at a licensed store or stand. Never buy them from an individual's house or out of someone's vehicle. Such fireworks are likely to be illegal explosives that could injure or even kill you.

Consumer fireworks regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission are brightly colored and have safety warnings on the packaging. The packaging sets forth the country of origin, typically China. Typical packages include fountains, cones, sparklers, fire crackers, bottle rockets, roman candles, ground spinners and multi-shot products.

Illegal products are often unpackaged or wrapped in plain brown paper, and don't usually bear any kind of safety warning. They are  handmade in unsafe environments, and may go by names such as M80, Quarter Stick or Cherry Bomb. If you are approached and asked to buy any of these explosives, decline and call the police.

Fireworks are typically safe, when used in accordance with their instructions. Follow these safety tips:

• Only use fireworks outdoors.
• Obey all local laws regarding the use of fireworks.
• Never give fireworks to young children.
• Always wear safety glasses when setting up and lighting fireworks.
• Always have a bucket of water or water hose close by.
• Remember that alcohol and fireworks do not mix.

Using sparklers is a typical way for people to celebrate America's birthday at cookouts and parades. Sparklers are safe, as long as you follow a few common sense rules. It should be noted, however, that 16 percent of all consumer fireworks injuries are caused by sparklers burning hands and legs, and most of those injuries happen to young children.

Following these tips can help:

• Children under the age of 12 should not use sparklers without very close adult supervision.
• Always remain standing when using sparklers.
• Never hold a child in your arms when using sparklers.
• Never hold or light more than one sparkler at a time.
• Sparklers and bare feet can be a painful combination. Always wear closed-toe shoes when using sparklers.
• Sparkler wire and stick remain hot long after the flame has died out. Be sure to drop the spent sparklers in a container of water.
• Never hand a lighted sparkler to another person. Give them the unlit sparkler and then light it.
• Always stand at least 6 feet from another person while using sparklers.
• Never throw sparklers.
• Show children how to hold sparklers away from their bodies and at arm's length.
• Teach children not to wave sparklers, especially wooden stick sparklers, or run while holding sparklers.

For us humans, fireworks can be a fun and inspiring experience. But remember that for many pets, fireworks can provoke anxiety. The bright lights and loud noises can cause panic and hysteria.

To keep your pet safe this Fourth of July, remember these safety tips:

• Unless your pet has proven to be unaffected by fireworks, don't take your pet to large crowded venues for a display. A pet could react to the loud noises by running, or hurting themselves or others.
• Keep your pet indoors at home in a sheltered, quiet area. Some animals can become destructive when frightened, so make sure you've removed items your pet could destroy or that would be harmful if chewed.
• Leave a television or radio playing at a normal volume to keep your pet comfortable while you are attending your celebration.
• If you know your pet becomes distressed because of loud noises, consult your veterinarian before the holiday for ways to alleviate the fear and anxiety.
• Never leave pets outside unattended, even if you have a fenced yard or the pet is tied up. Pets that normally wouldn't leave their yards may become lost or get tangled up in a leash or chain when frightened, risking injury or death.
• Make sure your pet is wearing identification tags or is micro-chipped so that if he does become lost, he can be found and returned promptly.
Published Thursday, July 1, 2010 9:03 AM by bulldog
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