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Five fireworks safety tips ahead of the Fourth of July holiday

July 4 means parades, barbecues, patriotic decorations and, of course, fireworks.

However, fireworks-related injuries are also associated with the national holiday. On average, 8,700 people nationwide are admitted into a hospital with fireworks-related injuries, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

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The sale, possession and residential use of ground-based sparklers is prohibited in Howard County and the state of Maryland, and violators are subject to a fine of up to $1,000. The Office of the Maryland State Fire Marshal said illegal fireworks include devices that fly into the air; pieces that create a loud explosion; or Chinese-style lanterns with no control of direction or path.

While the sale of fireworks is legal in some neighboring states, including Pennsylvania, it also is illegal to purchase fireworks in other states and ignite them in Maryland.

However, there are some legal fireworks products, including handheld sparklers, party poppers, snap pops and ignitable snakes.

Even though some of these products are legal, “they can still be dangerous,” as handheld sparklers can reach 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit, Howard County Fire Chief Christine Uhlhorn said at a news conference Wednesday morning at the James N. Robey Public Safety Training Center in Marriottsville.

“Please do not have a backyard tragedy,” Maryland State Fire Marshal Brian Geraci stressed at the briefing, which also included demonstrations of legal and illegal explosive devices by the Office of the State Fire Marshal's Bomb Squad.

For those who are going to be handling legal fireworks this Fourth of July, here are five tips to keep you and your loved ones safe:

  • A bucket of water or a hose should be nearby when using fireworks, in case of a fire.
  • Used fireworks should be doused with a significant amount of water.
  • Do not throw fireworks in the air.
  • Children should never pick up fireworks.
  • Only adults should handle fireworks and should supervise all fireworks activity.

“We all look forward to celebrating our nation’s independence with family and friends on the Fourth of July. I encourage everyone to keep their celebration safe and legal by following the advice of our police and fire departments when it comes to fireworks,” Howard County Executive Calvin Ball said in a statement.

Howard’s annual fireworks display will be at the Columbia Lakefront on July 4, starting around 9:30 p.m.

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