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Health Notes: Stay safe on July 4

The Minnesota Medical Association is urging residents to keep away from fireworks this Fourth of July. And that includes sparklers.

“Every year, too many children and adults are hurt by fireworks that go off unexpectedly,” said Cindy Firkins Smith, president of the association. “Young people suffer eye and hand injuries from fireworks each summer. It’s better to celebrate Independence Day by watching firework displays set off by experts.”

In the month surrounding the Fourth of July, emergency rooms around the country see a daily average of 200 patients with injuries related to fireworks, according to 2011 data collected by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Of those injuries, 46 percent are to hands and fingers. Another 17 percent are to eyes.

Large, loud fireworks aren’t the only kind doing damage. According to the commission, 17 percent of injuries related to fireworks are caused by sparklers.

Smith says the association would prefer that fireworks not be available to consumers in Minnesota.

“But as long as they are around,” she said, “we encourage everyone to use extreme caution.”