BATON ROUGE – From rockets to airborne fireworks, Fourth of July fun can instantly turn dangerous if the explosives are not used properly.

“We know that there are still far too many injuries and deaths associated with fireworks,” said Alex Hoehn-Saric, chairman of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

In its annual fireworks report, the CPSC found that there were eight firework-related deaths last year—most due to improper use and some due to misfires or device malfunctions.

During the same period, an estimated 9,700 people were injured by fireworks; 800 of them had to be admitted to the emergency room, many with burns.

“About two-thirds of fireworks injuries occurred in the two weeks before and two weeks after July 4, so it's especially important now to take some steps to protect yourself,” Hoehn-Saric said.

According to the CPSC, attending professional fireworks displays is the best way to avoid fireworks-related injuries. However, if you choose to set off fireworks yourself, you should not be under the influence of alcohol or drugs and have water on hand in case of a fire or other problems.

Children should also keep a safe distance when lighting and setting off fireworks. Even sparklers are not safe in small hands.

“Sparklers burn at about 2000 degrees. That's as hot as a blowtorch. They cause an enormous number of burns every year,” said Hoehn-Saric.

Finally, make sure you only buy legal fireworks from reputable retailers. The report shows that in the last financial year, about 18% of the fireworks selected and tested did not meet safety regulations.

“We want everyone to have a happy Fourth of July, but in a safe way,” Hoehn-Saric said.

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