Caution urged when

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 29, 2000

celebrating with fireworks


Staff Writer

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Dec. 28, 2000 10 PM

The new year is expected to come in with a few bangs and bursts of color.

On New Year’s Eve some Pike County residents will blast into 2001 with fireworks instead ringing it in with bells and horns.

Since the Third Century A.D., fireworks have been used to celebrate the coming of a new year.

Invented by the Chinese, the first "firecrackers" were bamboo thrown onto flames, As the trapped air inside the stalks became hotter, they would explode with a bang. Around 1050, gunpowder was added to the bamboo to create the first of what we consider fireworks.

And, misuse of modern fireworks can turn a celebration into a trip to the emergency room.

During 1999, 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.

"We want everyone to have a fun and safe New Year’s," Troy Police Chief Anthony Everage said, adding safety is the most important thing.

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.

"We don’t have many problems, at all," Troy Fire Chief Ray Rhodes said of people using fireworks.

Of those instances that were problems, most of them involved unsupervised children.

Rhodes said anyone who chooses to bring in the new year with a bang should "use common sense" and make sure there is adult supervision.