OFD file photo

OTTUMWA — The joy of colorful sparks can turn into significant injuries if safety measures are not taken.

Assistant Chief Deputy Doug Overturf said residents can have fun while remaining safe over Independence Day. He said children need adult supervision when playing with fireworks and parents should follow exact instructions. If possible, residents should keep fireworks away from houses and dry grounds.

"The front porch is usually the most dangerous for fireworks," Overturf said.

In his 29 years of working with the Ottumwa Fire Department, Overturf said there have been a few injuries each year. According to the United States Consumer Safety Commission, on average 180 people nationally go to the emergency room every day with fireworks-related injuries in the month around the July 4 holiday. Fourty-Four percent of injuries are burns.

During his career, Overturf said the worst accident to occur on July 4 was caused by a person who sat on the front porch and held the fireworks for too long.

Aside from fireworks safety, Overturf said people can also stay safe while barbequing. Overturf strongly suggested people have a bucket of water near them in case flames get out of hand. He said residents should keep their grills at a reasonable distance from their homes.

"Don't let your gas light," he said. "Make sure you turn your propane off. Dispose of charocal in a safe manner and don't put it on the ground."

Overturf wants individuals to have fun, but not compromise their safety. "Have fun over this wonderful holiday, but be as safe as possible."

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