Leave fireworks to the professionals, Rural/Metro Fire Chief Jerry Harnish recommends. While fireworks are synonymous with Fourth of July and Independence Day celebrations, the explosives are also the cause of dangerous fires, millions of dollars in damages and nearly 10,000 emergency room visits nationally each year.

“Our priority is to keep people safe this Fourth of July,” said Harnish. “That is why we want toremind residents that there are no safe home fireworks. Leave the danger to the professionals and just enjoy the show.”

Injuries from fireworks are often due to unsafe handling of the devices or being too close. But manufacturer defects, including short fuses and overcharging, can also be the cause. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) states that 65 percent of all fireworks injuries occur in the two weeks on either side of July 4, and a national average of 200 people daily are admitted to the emergency room for fireworks injuries. The consumption of alcohol increases the risk of injury.

“Fireworks are unpredictable and dangerous,” said Harnish. “Each year, we see holidays ruined with trips to the emergency room from improper use of fireworks. Injuries range from burns to the arms and face, scarring, ear trauma, eye injuries, even loss of limb.”

Children under the age of 15 are the group most likely to sustain injuries from fireworks. Children should never be allowed to play with fireworks of any type. A standard sparkler can burn up to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit and can cause severe burns or eye injuries. According to the CPSC, sparklers top the list of common fireworks that cause injuries.

In addition to being dangerous, fireworks are illegal to buy, sell, use or store in Knox County. Those in possession of fireworks, even if purchased outside the county, can be cited and face significant fines.

“The best way to enjoy fireworks this Independence Day is to take advantage of one of the many professional fireworks displays taking place across the county,” said Harnish. “These shows are carefully planned by licensed professionals, registered with local fire departments and monitored for safety.”

The city of Knoxville is putting on its free annual Festival on the Fourth in World’s Fair Park. The festival with free food and music begins at 4 p.m. on July 4. The Knoxville Symphony Orchestra will play a free concert at 8 p.m. before a spectacular fireworks display at 9:35 p.m.