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Fireworks safety urged by law enforcement

justine wettschreck/Daily Globe The Worthington Police Department is asking citizens to be cautious and keep things legal when using fireworks over the holiday weekend.

WORTHINGTON -- Statistics collected each year between June 25 and July 15 show that injuries caused by fireworks are down, but State Fire Marshal Jerry Rosendahl said the goal is for that number to be zero.

From 111 injuries in 2004 to 57 in 2009 is an improvement, but not good enough.

There are two important behaviors, Rosendahl said, that will help move numbers in the right direction.

Minnesota citizens must keep in mind that if it flies or explodes, it's illegal in this state.

Personal fireworks legal for use in Minnesota are sparklers, snakes, glow worms, string poppers and other non-aerial, non-explosive devices.

Items such as firecrackers, bottle rockets, roman candles and lady fingers may not be purchased, sold, possessed, used or transported except by certified fireworks experts.

"The law is clear," Rosendahl stated. "It doesn't change because you're shooting the things over the lake or because the neighbor doesn't mind or the grass is wet. To be truly responsible adults, we must think about what we're teaching our children when we cherry-pick the laws we're going to obey."

Legal fireworks must be used carefully, with respect for their potential to cause injury or property damage. Sparklers are fun, but they are still wire dipped in explosives, Rosendahl said.

"The burning tip of a sparkler can exceed 1,800 degrees," he explained. "That's why it is smart to supervise, wear shoes and keep a bucket of water nearby to cool and extinguish the spent wires."

Other safety tips include lighting one item at a time, never attempted to relight a "dud," and avoiding areas with dry brush, grass or debris.

"I would ask that parents or adults supervise children with any legal fireworks," stated Worthington Public Safety Director Mike Cumiskey, adding that the neighbors' peace and quiet should be taken into account to avoid problems and visits from law enforcement. "We want everyone to have a great, safe Independence Day wherever they enjoy it."

The Worthington Police Department recommends eye protection for those using fireworks, and wants to remind people that fireworks should never be thrown or aimed at another person, an animal or a building. Fireworks should not be carried in pockets or lit inside a container such as a bottle or can.

"Everyone wants to see or injury numbers continue to drop," Rosendahl stated. "And our paramedics, firefighters and hospitals don't need the work. So please act responsibly. Leave the aerial explosives to the professionals and enjoy your July 4 holiday safely."