WASHINGTON (AP) -- Expecting a surge in the use of fireworks this Fourth of July, the government is warning Americans to take care so their patriotic pyrotechnics don't turn into trips to hospital emergency rooms.
"In the wake of Sept. 11, Americans want to display their patriotism in a big way," Thomas Moore, acting chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, said Wednesday.
Fireworks sales are expected to reach $700 million this year, $50 million more than 2001, said Julie Heckman, spokeswoman for the American Pyrotechnics Association, an industry group based in Bethesda, Md. She said fireworks with patriotic names and red, white and blue colors appear to be popular.
Moore cautioned that using fireworks improperly or setting off illegal fireworks can cause deaths, blindings, amputations and severe burns.
"Don't purchase illegal fireworks. Don't purchase fireworks meant to be used by professionals," Moore said.
M-80s, cherry bombs and quarter sticks are so explosive they have been banned since 1966.
At least 9,500 people were injured by fireworks last year and treated in emergency rooms, the agency said. That number is down from the highs of the early 1990s when injuries averaged 12,500 a year.
Moore said sparklers often used by young children can be dangerous and burn at 2,000 degrees.
"Never give fireworks, even sparklers, to little ones," he said.
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