PUBLIC SAFETY FACILITY — As the July 4 holiday approaches, the Santa Monica fire and police departments remind everyone that all types of fireworks are illegal in the city. This includes so-called “safe and sane” fireworks, which may not be used, even if they are legal in the city in which they are purchased.

Permanent scarring, loss of vision, dismemberment — these are too often the harsh results of amateur fireworks use, public safety officials said.

To keep the public safe from fireworks-related injuries and deaths, the nonprofit National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) urges everyone to treat fireworks, whether legal or illegal for consumers, as suitable only for use by trained professionals. According to NFPA, amateur fireworks use endangers not only the users, but also bystanders and surrounding property and structures. Pyrotechnic devices ranging from sparklers to aerial rockets cause thousands of fires and serious injuries each year.

Facts & figures<p>

• In 2008, fireworks caused an estimated 22,500 reported fires, including 1,400 total structure fires, 500 vehicle fires, and 20,600 outside and other fires. These fires resulted in an estimated one civilian death, 40 civilian injuries and $42 million in direct property damage.

• In 2008, U.S. hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 7,000 people for fireworks related injuries; 53 percent of 2008 emergency room fireworks-related injuries were to the extremities and 37 percent were to the head.

• The risk of fireworks injury was highest for teens ages 15-19 and children 5-9, both with at least two-and-a-half times the risk for the general population.

• On Independence Day in a typical year, far more U.S. fires are reported than on any other day, and fireworks account for more than half of those fires, more than any other cause of fires.

Fireworks safety tips<p>

Public fireworks displays by trained professionals are the smartest and safest fireworks alternative for everyone because they are conducted under controlled settings and regulations, fire department officials said. Following these displays, or at any other time, children should be cautioned to never pick up fireworks that may be left over. Fireworks that have been ignited and fail to immediately explode or discharge can cause injury because they may still be active. Children should always tell an adult if they find fireworks, rather than picking up smoking or charred fireworks themselves, which is just too risky. Remember, all fireworks should be left to professionals.

news@smdp.com

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