Paramedics urge safety with fireworks - - Jackson, MS

Paramedics urge safety with fireworks

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JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

The Fourth of July is often associated with family, food and fireworks. The pyrotechnics can be beautiful to watch, but they can also be extremely dangerous to play with.

During WLBT's Thursday morning newscasts, Jim Pollard from American Medical Response used a ripe tomato to demonstrate the danger of fireworks. Within seconds, the tomato splattered completely after being placed near a lit firecracker.

Pollard says the explosion represents what can happen to your eye after a fireworks accident.

"That firework is an M-80," he said. "It's relatively available at local fireworks stands, but you don't have to have a firework that powerful to cause significant injury."

Fireworks tents are filled with all sorts of firecrackers in preparation for the upcoming Independence Day holiday. 

"Nationwide, the U.S. Fire Administration says about 11,000 people a year are sent to the hospital from fireworks injuries, and about 2,000 of those injuries are injuries to the eye leading to permanent eye damage," Pollard said.

Sparklers often seem harmless, but they can get as hot as 2,000 degrees. That's as hot as a blow torch. Even when sparklers burn out they can still burn you, so it's always important to have some water next to you so you can put them out completely.

"Don't let small children -- or anybody, for that matter -- use sparklers in their hand," Pollard said. "Plant them in the ground."

Assistant Chief Lee Vance of the Jackson Police Department says it is legal to shoot fireworks in the city of Jackson, but police will be on patrol watching for anyone breaking the law. There was a homicide in Battlefield Park over the Fourth of July weekend in 2010.

"We're going to be out full force pretty much enforcing the law, but at the same time ensuring the safety of the citizens," said JPD spokeswoman Colendula Green.

So if you want to see some fireworks, it's best to play it safe.

"The best way AMR advocates to enjoy a fireworks show is to go to a professionally produced show such as what a county or city might put on," says Pollard.

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