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Law Enforcement Focuses On Fireworks Safety As Independence Day Approaches

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The Fourth of July is only a week away and West Virginians will soon be busy with cookouts, parades, and firework celebrations.

Authorities said fireworks cause property damage and thousands of injuries every year.

"In 2011, there were over 200 injuries that were surrounded around the Fourth of July," said Corporal Don Neal, Fairmont Police Department.

"Fireworks are extremely dangerous and people don't realize this until its too late," said Bob Sliger, Fairmont Fire Department.

The West Virginia State Fire Marshal said an estimated 8,600 people were treated for injuries caused by fireworks in 2010.

"Most of the injuries occur to your hands," Corporal Neal said. "The next one is the arms, then the head and the eyes."

73 percent of those injuries occurred around the Fourth of July.

"Firecrackers going off in peoples hands. Sparklers that shouldn't be used by kids because they run around with them. They end up getting burnt," said Sliger. "One of the leading cause of burns on the Fourth of July is sparklers."

Law enforcement said the safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend an outdoor display put on by professionals.

But if you want to do it on your own, take caution.

"You don't want to carry them in your pockets. You want to make sure that if you light it and it goes out, don't try to relight it. Throw that one away. It's a loss," Corporal Neal said.

"Keep a wide area around the fireworks that you are setting off," Sliger said. "Don't let the children light them."