With the Fourth of July fast approaching, officials caution those who plan on being near fireworks to use safety measures in order to avoid injuries.
Logan Township Police Chief Ron Heller said there were more complaints than ever last year about illegal fireworks in the area.
"It's our intent this year to follow up on the issue of illegal fireworks," Heller said.
He said he recalls an incident last year where a firework was shot through a business window on Logan Boulevard.
Heller said the department is planning to crack down when it comes to illegal fireworks.
"Most fireworks in Pennsylvania are illegal," he said. "Anything that goes into the air or explodes is illegal."
Check out the fireworks
PennDOT and state police issued a release to remind motorists that parking or standing along Interstate 99 to watch the Independence Day fireworks at DelGrosso's Amusement Park and Lakemont Park is illegal.
There will be a Ballpark Block Party at Peoples Natural Gas Field with fireworks at dusk on Tuesday.
Displays planned for Wednesday include:
- Peoples Natural
Gas Field, after the Altoona Curve vs. Reading Phillies baseball game
- DelGrosso's Amusement Park, Tipton, 9 p.m.
- Lakemont Park, live bands and fireworks at 10 p.m., $10 admission
- Beaver Stadium, University Park, around 9:15 p.m.
- The Park at Morisons Cove, Martinsburg, 10:15 p.m.
Heller said any business that is selling fireworks has to be licensed, and in order to have a display there must be a permit from the township.
"People that plan on setting off illegal fireworks, we intend to cite them for not obtaining the permit," he said.
The department plans on doing spot checks and paying close attention to what people are selling, Heller said.
"Bottom line is they are an explosive and they do malfunction," he said.
The National Fire Protection Agency's 2012 Fireworks report stated that there are more fires on Independence Day than any other day of the year.
In 2010, fireworks caused an estimated 15,500 reported fires, including 1,100 structure fires, 300 vehicle fires, and 14,100 outside and other fires.
Dr. Matthew Bouchard, Altoona Regional's chairman of Emergency Medicine, said the hospital sees many fireworks-related injuries each year in the emergency room.
"Generally they involve burns to the hands or face. Some can be serious," he said. "Another issue is drinking while using fireworks. It is not a good idea to mix the two."
Bouchard said each year there are about 10,000 fireworks-related injuries seen in emergency rooms, and about half involve children.
He recommended some safety tips for the upcoming holiday.
"Keep a bucket of water or a fire extinguisher nearby, and after the firework has gone off, put it in a bucket of water," he said. "Light fireworks one at a time, don't set them off in glass or metal containers and don't wear loose clothing while lighting fireworks [in case of catching on fire]."
Sherry Turchetta, coordinator of Safe Kids Blair County and a community and education specialist for Altoona Regional, said the Safe Kids program aims to reduce unintentional injury in children.
"We want to make parents more aware of the dangers," she said of fireworks safety. "They may not see the potential hazards; they just see a fun time for the children."
Turchetta said last year there were more than 3,500 children under the age of 15 across the country who suffered injuries involving fireworks.
"Something as simple as a sparkler may burn or injure someone," she said. "An average sparkler can reach 2,000 degrees and cause a serious burn."
The National Fire Protection Agency stated in its report that in 2010 sparklers and novelties alone accounted for 38 percent of the 8,600 emergency room fireworks injuries.
Turchetta said other injuries besides burns can occur from fireworks, such as impaired vision or hearing.
"Kids need to know what to do in case of an emergency," she said. "Fireworks are a crowd favorite and fun to watch but need to be in the hands of the right people."
Turchetta said she wants to celebrate a safe Fourth of July just like everyone else does and that children need to be taught at a young age what the dangers are.
"We want to prevent the risk as much as we can," she said.