The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

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June 29, 2014

Have a blast!

But be safe about it this 4th of July

MERCER COUNTY AREA — A Fourth of July celebration turned into years of recovery for one local man. Vince Fustos, 50, is still healing from his accident five years ago.

“It was pretty catastrophic,” the Hermitage man said.

Fustos lost his left hand, burned his right-hand fingertips, blew out his eardrums and is still healing from all the burns after he had an accident with fireworks in his basement.

“Do not cut the fireworks open. I think that’s probably the biggest thing,” he said.

Fustos now leaves the fireworks to the professionals, but there are ways for people to enjoy them safely at home.

William Weimer, vice president of Youngstown-based Phantom Fireworks, said safety is crucial for those who may be planning to light up their Independence Day celebrations this week.

“For marketing purposes, you get hurt, I’ll never see you again,” he said. “You have fun, you’ll come back and buy twice as much.”

One of the biggest causes of injuries can involve the youngest users.

“I do not consider sparkler injuries firework injuries, I consider those student parent/guardian injuries,” Weimer said.

Sparklers cause 85 percent of hand and face fireworks injuries, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission stated in a study.

“You wouldn’t let your child play with matches, why on God’s earth would you let them play with thousand-plus degree sparklers?” Weimer asked.

Weimer said Phatom recommends that customers light fireworks in a bucket of sand or kitty litter, or stick them in the ground.

Another big risk is mixing alcohol with fireworks.

“That’s a bad combination,” Fustos said.

Weimer suggested there be a designated shooter, just like a designated driver.

Also, enjoy. Weimer said there are so many options to choose from, and “lots of fun, lots of action.”

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