Firefighters urge July 4th Safety

Every Fourth of July, millions of Americans celebrate Independence Day with the lighting of fireworks. Horry County Fire Rescue urges residents to take the necessary precautions if participating in these types of events.

According to the United States Fire Administration and the National Fire Protection Association, more than 8,600 Americans are injured by fireworks, with 73 percent occurring between June 18 and July 18. Children 15 and younger made up for 40 percent of the estimated injuries. In 2009, more than 18,000 fires were caused by fireworks, with $38 million in direct property loss.

"We really encourage the residents of Horry County to attend public fireworks displays and leave the fireworks to the experts," stated Kenny Todd, battalion chief, Horry County Fire Rescue and resident state fire marshal, in a press release. "Though we have had a lot of rain over the last few weeks, fires related to fireworks are not out of the question. In order to eliminate the number of fire and medical incidents due to the misuse of fireworks, it is important that you leave it to the professionals."

The unincorporated areas of Horry County do have some fireworks exclusion zones and it is illegal to shoot them off at the beach. Todd reminds those to be cognizant of the laws. "Each municipality has their own fireworks laws, be familiar with those as you partake in the festivities and know where the exclusion zones are."

Horry County Fire Rescue offers these tips:

· Never ignite fireworks indoors or near dry grass.

· Always have a container of water and/or a fire extinguisher nearby. Know how to operate the extinguisher properly.

· Do not wear loose clothing while using fireworks.

· Stand several feet away from lit fireworks. If a device does not go off, do not stand over to investigate it. Put it out with water and dispose of it.

· Always read the directions and warning labels on fireworks. If a device is not marked with contents, directions and a warning label, do not ignite it.

· Supervise children around fireworks at all times.

The Florence Fire Department adds:

-Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks, including sparklers. Parents may not realize that young children suffer injuries from sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees - hot enough to melt some metals.

-Always have an adult closely supervise fireworks activities if older children are allowed to handle devices.

-Avoid buying fireworks that are packaged in brown paper because this is often a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays and could pose a danger to consumers.

-Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.

-Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.

-Never try to relight or handle malfunctioning fireworks. Soak them with water and throw them away.

-Never point or throw fireworks at another person.

-Light fireworks one at a time, then move back quickly.

-Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.

-After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding the device to prevent a trash fire.