Officials emphasize fireworks safety as July 4 approaches

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By , KYW Newsradio

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Fireworks sales doubled last year, and fire officials are stressing the importance of safety as we approach July 4.

Fireworks are best left to the professionals, said Pennsylvania Fire Commissioner Bruce Trego. If you do plan on putting on a show of your own, however, Trego has a few helpful tips to stay safe.

"Keep a bucket of water or garden hose handy in case there is a fire," he advised. "Never pick up or try to relight fireworks that have not fully ignited. After the fireworks have burned, fully douse them with water before picking them up or disposing them in the trash."

Before you dismiss this as common sense, keep in mind over 15,000 people were treated for injuries from fireworks in the state last year. More than a third of the victims were children under 15.

"Fireworks start more than 18,500 fires per year and cause an average of more than $43 million in direct property damage," Trego said.

He also suggested checking with your town for local rules on fireworks, and being mindful of your neighbors who may suffer from PTSD triggered by loud bangs.

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