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Danger in the sky?

Thursday, July 3, 2008

AREA -- This Friday, and throughout the weekend, all around the Mammoth Spring/ Oregon County area, people will be gathering to celebrate Independence Day. Authorities around the area remind residents city and state laws should be followed.

Fireworks cannot be sold in the city limits of Thayer or Alton. Fireworks can be sold in Mammoth Spring.

Fireworks cannot be shot in the city limits of Thayer or Alton unless it is by an organized group or club such as the Chamber of Commerce or the Lion's Club.

Mammoth Spring Mayor Jean Pace said fireworks can be shot-off in the city limits of Mammoth Spring unless a burn ban has been issued by the county judge or the forestry department.

Mammoth Spring Fire Chief Kenny Haney urges residents in the city limits to be careful while celebrating this Fourth of July. "Small children should always be watched closely when fireworks are being shot. They should always be supervised by an adult and never left alone to shoot fireworks," Haney said. He also reminds area residents to use the fireworks only as the instructions say on the package.

The National Council of Fireworks Safety has a few tips on how to keep your July 4th holiday activities safe.

* Use fireworks outdoors only.

* Obey local laws. If fireworks are not legal where you live, do not use them.

* Always have water handy. (A hose or a bucket of water.)

* Only use fireworks as intended. Don't try to alter them or combine them.

* Never re-light a "dud" firework. (Wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water.)

* Use common sense when using fireworks. Spectators should keep a safe distance from the shooter. The shooter should always wear safety glasses.

* Alcohol and fireworks do not mix. Have a designated shooter.

* Only people over the age of 12 should be allowed to handle sparklers of any type.

* Do not ever use homemade fireworks or illegal explosives. They can kill you. Report illegal explosives to the fire or police departments in your community.

The council recommends that you only buy consumer fireworks from a licensed store or stand. Never buy fireworks from an individual's house or from someone on the street.

Consumer fireworks regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission are packaged in bright colors with safety warnings on the packaging. The packaging tells the country of origin, which is normally China. Typical consumer fireworks include fountain, cones, sparklers, fire crackers, bottle rockets and multiple tube products.

Illegal explosives are often unpackaged and are wrapped with plain brown paper. They are very unlikely to have safety warnings or place of manufacture. Many of them are made in basements or illicit factories. They go by names such as M80, Quarter Stick or Cherry Bomb. If someone approaches you to sell one of these illegal explosives, politely decline and then call your local police department.

Consumer fireworks, if used in accordance with their instructions, are very safe. Injuries from consumer fireworks have shown a dramatic decrease over the past 20 years, despite an astonishing increase in usage by consumers.

"Many times consumers don't prepare for the evening's fireworks display," said Ralph Apel, president of the National Council on Fireworks Safety. "The designated shooter should prepare a shooting area, know how many people will be watching the display and lay out a spectator area that is far enough away from the shooting site. The shooter should carefully read the label of each firework and understand exactly what it will do. Preplanning makes for a safe and fun backyard fireworks display."

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