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Play it safe when using fireworks,

boating this weekend

The Fourth of July isn’t complete without fireworks, but misuse of them can result in a trip to the emergency room.

Last year, 16 deaths and 8,500 injuries from fireworks were reported to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. The year before, the number of injuries stayed the same, but the number of deaths was 13.

Of those hurt in 1999, about 45 percent of the victims were under the age of 15.

In other words, emergency personnel are asking people to leave the fireworks to professionals.

And, in the city limits of Troy, residents better just leave them alone.

Sgt. Benny Scarbrough, public information officer for the Troy Police Department, said it is illegal to discharge and sell fireworks in the city limits.

This year’s dry conditions are also a concern and some parts of Alabama have banned fireworks because of the fear of forest fires.

"We want everyone to have a fun and safe Fourth of July," said Troy Police Chief Anthony Everage.

But, for those who must absolutely use fireworks to complete the holiday, there are some important safety tips the CPSC has issued:

· Never allow children to play with or ignite fireworks.

· Read and follow all warnings and instructions.

· Be sure other people are out of range before lighting fireworks.

· Only light fireworks on a smooth, flat surface away from the house, dry leaves and flammable materials.

· Never try to relight fireworks that have not fully functioned.

· Keep a bucket of water or a hose handy in case of a malfunction or fire.

Another safety concern is that of those who choose to celebrate the holiday on the water.

Alabama Marine Police officials expect the upcoming week to be one of the busiest boating periods of the year.

In order to keep the holiday a good one, boaters should have: current registration for boat and personal watercraft; a vessel operator’s license; U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation devices for every person on board and a fully-charged fire extinguisher.

"We want all Alabama boaters to have a safe, accident-free Fourth of July," said Commissioner Riley Boykin Smith of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

By following the safey rules, checking weather forecasts and being courteous to others, the holiday should be just that, Smith said.