4th of July safety: Tips to stay safe around fireworks

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. (WLS) -- Fireworks can go from fun to dangerous in a matter of seconds. As many people are stocking up ahead of the 4th of July holiday, follow these safety tips to avoid a trip to the emergency room.

FULL LIST: Chicago-area fireworks displays

The Illinois Fire Safety Alliance recommends leaving the fireworks to the professionals and going to a community display. Its leaders were joined by public safety and medical experts at Amita Health in Hoffman Estates to discuss the damaging effects fireworks can have on children, pets, and veterans who suffer from PTSD.

"Kids should never handle fireworks," said Dr. Reinhold Llerena. "Kids don't understand consequences or the risks of fireworks."

Just brushing up against a sparkler, which can reach a temperature hot enough to melt metal, can ignite clothes and cause burns that leave victims with both physical and emotional trauma.

"Imagine being a 7, 8 or 9-year-old child on a day like today where it's hot out and you want to go to the pool and there's a boy that has scarring on his chest or stomach or arms and is embarrassed by that," said Phil Zaleski, of the Illinois Fire Safety Alliance.

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According to police, 61-year-old Floyd Temple was lighting large fireworks in his front yard when he lit one facing the wrong way.

While purchasing fireworks is banned in Illinois, experts say states that have legalized them have seen an increase in injuries. Last year, there were five deaths, including two in Indiana and Iowa.

There is also a call to be aware that the explosive sounds of fireworks can trigger PTSD in veterans.

"Though we might all feel that it could be a patriotic experience that we think we're doing, we're actually potentially causing some harm psychologically to the people that we're trying to honor," said Dr. Patrick McGrath, a PTSD expert.

Dogs can also be frightened by loud noises and many run away, with shelters seeing an increase in dogs the day after the holiday. Veterinarians advise keeping them indoors.

"About 1 in 3 dogs have severe noise reactivity, which makes significant stress internalize into them," veterinarian Dr. Joseph Lupo said.
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