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Santa Clara County Launches Campaign to Raise Awareness about Celebrating July 4th the Safe Way!

SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF. – The County of Santa Clara and the Santa Clara County Fire Chief’s Association launched an awareness campaign today to encourage everyone to observe this July 4th holiday the safe way. With Independence Day quickly approaching, there are so many reasons to celebrate. One of the most popular ways to mark the holiday is with fireworks. Santa Clara County and the Fire Chief’s Association are encouraging everyone to enjoy those beautiful displays from a distance this holiday.

“My colleagues on the Board of Supervisors and I recognized setting off firecrackers is not only a public nuisance issue in neighborhoods, it is a public safety issue as well,” said Supervisor Dave Cortese, who called for the County to contribute $50,000 toward the cost of the San Jose Rotary’s Fourth of July Fireworks Display in Downtown San Jose, and $20,000 to launch a safety campaign highlighting the dangers of purchasing and using personal fireworks. “By attending outdoor public displays conducted by trained professionals, county residents can avoid danger to themselves, children, and pets from the potentially devastating effects of fireworks injuries.”

Nationwide, nearly 10,000 people are treated in emergency rooms for fireworks-related injuries each year, at an annual cost of more than $100 million. Fireworks injuries can be disastrous; they can include serious burns, fires, and even death. That is a very high number given that there are only two times in the year when firecrackers are most often used – New Year’s Eve and July 4th.

The personal use of fireworks poses a real hazard given the current drought conditions, where high fire danger is expected to continue throughout the year, especially near county hillsides.

"Over the last several years, there has been an increase in the use of illegal fireworks. With resources already strained, this creates an additional burden in police and fire departments," said Santa Clara County Fire Chief Ken Kehmna.

At a news conference at Ed Levin Park in Milpitas today, speakers discussed outreach efforts included in the campaign and encouraged all residents to celebrate, but to do so safely.

A special study conducted by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, of nonoccupational fireworks- related injuries occurring between June 22, 2012 and July 22, 2012, found:

· There were an estimated 1,200 emergency department-treated injuries associated with firecrackers;

· Children younger than 15 years of age accounted for approximately 30 percent of the estimated 2012 injuries;

· An estimated 31 percent of the injuries were associated with small firecrackers, an estimated 19 percent with illegal firecrackers; and

· An estimated 600 emergency department-treated injuries associated with sparklers and 400 with bottle rockets.

“Avoid spending this 4th of July holiday in the Burn Center,” said Jill Sproul, Nurse Manager of Santa Clara Valley Medical Center’s Burn Center. “A second and third degree burn can result from using fireworks use. The best way to protect your family is to stay away from fireworks, and enjoy a public display. Attempting to use fireworks yourself is extremely risky, and it is simply not worth it.”

In addition to being extremely dangerous, fireworks are illegal in most areas in Santa Clara County.

Tips for staying safe this holiday!

· Follow federal and state fireworks laws. Fireworks are illegal in Santa Clara County. ‘Safe and sane’ fireworks are legal for Gilroy residents only.

· The safest way to celebrate is to attend an outdoor public display conducted by specially trained professionals.

· Never allow children to play with or ignite fireworks, including sparklers. Children should be kept a safe distance away from any display.

· Do not experiment with homemade fireworks, as serious injury or even death can result.

· Keep pets indoors and away from fireworks.

· Avoid drinking and driving, and ride public transportation to a professional public display.
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