As many families prepare to celebrate our nation's independence, it should be the number one priority to celebrate safely. There’s nothing worse than what should be a happy and joyous celebration turning into a tragedy. Each year nationally, fireworks have been the cause of over 16,000 fires. This includes structure fires, vehicle fires and outside fires such as woods and grass (per the National Fire Protection Association). Emergency room visits with injuries resulting from fireworks increase, with an estimated 10,500 injuries occurring nationwide in 2015 (per the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission). Children under the age of 15 make up approximately 35% of those injured by fireworks with one-quarter of all fireworks-related emergency room visits resulting from the use of sparklers. While the sale of fireworks within our fire protection district is legal, St. Tammany Fire Protection District No. 11 discourages use. A safer alternative is to visit a public fireworks display where the licensed pyrotechnic professional’s put on the show. The Town of Pearl River has just that and will put on a fireworks display at dark on Wednesday, July 3rd. If people do choose to use fireworks, we encourage them to do so with extreme caution. Keep in mind that sparklers, as innocent as they appear are extremely dangerous, particularly for young children. Sparklers can reach 1,200 °F causing serious burns. To put that in perspective, glass melts at 900 °F. Fireworks could land in a grassy area or on a roof causing a fire that could be out of control in a matter of seconds or minutes. The safest bet is to completely stay away from consumer fireworks use. If a fire starts or injury results, dial 9-1-1 immediately. Have a happy and safe Independence Day.