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'Even sparklers.' Leave fireworks to the professionals over 4th of July, Cleveland leaders say

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Setting off fireworks is dangerous and illegal in the City of Cleveland, officials said during a public safety press conference Thursday.

Leaders from various public safety divisions were calling on the public to make decisions to stay safe over the Fourth of July holiday when injuries due to fireworks and celebratory gunfire are common.

"Fireworks are just too dangerous to play with," said Cleveland Division of Fire Lt. Mike Norman. "Even sparklers, people think sparklers are safe, sparklers burn at twice the heat as burning wood. So, make sure that you're not giving those to small children."

Using fireworks is illegal in the city, and officers will be on patrol, said Cleveland Police Chief Wayne Drummond.

Celebratory gunfire is also dangerous, he said.

"You have to remember, what goes up, must come down," Drummond said. "Every year we have individuals that are injured or potentially killed from individuals discharging their firearms."

In 2022, 10,200 people were treated in emergency rooms and 11 were killed by fireworks in the U.S. in the weeks before and after the holiday, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Nearly, two in five injuries were burns. The largest share of burns affected hands - 29%, but a large share of people also suffered burns to their head, face and ears - 19%, and eyes - 16%.

The best way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a public show, according to the American Red Cross. Attendees should stay at least 500 feet away from the show. And people should immediately leave any area where untrained amateurs are using fireworks. If you decide to set off fireworks at home, the Red Cross recommends:

  • Never give fireworks to small children
  • Never throw or point a firework toward people, animals, vehicles, structures or flammable materials
  • Keep a supply of water close by
  • Wear eye protection when lighting fireworks
  • Only light one firework at a time and never attempt to relight "a dud."
  • Store fireworks in a cool, dry place away from children and pets
Stephanie is the deputy editor of news at Ideastream Public Media.