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|Officials offer fireworks safety tips|
Many local residents will take the opportunity to celebrate the Fourth of July by shooting their own fireworks.
The Ouachita Parish Fire Department urges people to take the necessary precautions when shooting fireworks in order to avoid a trip to the emergency room.
According to the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, thousands of children are admitted to emergency rooms on the Fourth due to fireworks injuries.
The most common fireworks injuries result from sparklers, often considered safe for children, as well as firecrackers and bottle rockets.
Greg Thompson, chief of fire prevention for the Ouachita Parish Fire Department, said current weather conditions have left grass and wooded areas in Ouachita Parish extremely dry.
So, besides the risk for injury, people should be mindful that fires can occur with the use of fireworks, Thompson said.
Shooting fireworks within the city limits of Monroe and West Monroe is prohibited, Thompson said.
The discharge of fireworks in Ouachita Parish outside of the city limits is not allowed between the hours of 10 p.m. and 8 a.m.
Thompson said all complaints made to law enforcement agencies regarding misuse of fireworks will be investigated.
"The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a public fireworks display like the annual celebration on the Ouachita River. Still yet, many will purchase fireworks each year for the enjoyment of families and friends. This enjoyment can be spoiled if the proper precautions are not taken to avoid injuries, Thompson said.
Some safety measures:
• Only adults should handle fireworks; children should be advised to leave parties or celebrations if their friends are playing with fireworks.
• Teach children basic safety rules such as how to "stop, drop and roll" if their clothing catches fire and to call 911 in the event of an emergency.
• Show children how to put fireworks out with water or fire extinguishers and keep a bucket of water handy when using fireworks.
• Read the labels on fireworks and follow the recommended safety guidelines when using them. All fireworks are required to carry a warning label describing the possible risks.
• Never use fireworks indoors. Always light fireworks outdoors on a flat, smooth surface away from homes, dry leaves or other flammable materials.
• Never pick up fireworks or place them in your pockets.
• Do not attempt to re-light fireworks that appear to be malfunctioning. Do not put your face, arms or other body parts over a firework to examine it.
• Make sure all spectators are safely out of range before lighting fireworks.
• Do not use fireworks while under the influence of alcohol or other substances.
• Consider viewing fireworks as part of the public celebrations hosted in most communities, where the fireworks displays are conducted by trained professionals.
Also, Thompson said it is illegal to explode fireworks within 1,000 feet of a church, hospital, asylum, school, public building or retail fireworks location. It is also illegal to ignite and throw fireworks from a motor vehicle, and to ignite and place or throw fireworks at a motor vehicle.