Fireworks are explosives -- treat them accordingly

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- The Air Force Academy Fire Prevention Office wants people to keep safety in mind as they prepare to celebrate the Fourth of July. 

Perhaps the easiest way to stay safe is to attend the Air Force Academy's Independence Day celebration, which is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. July 4 at the Academy athletic fields. 

Anyone can attend and enjoy climbing walls, a bungee trampoline, food and beverages and other activities. The Air Force Academy Band "Blue Steel" will perform at 8:50 p.m., and a 20-minute fireworks show will kick off at 9:30 p.m. Visitors can bring cameras, lawn chairs, blankets, umbrellas and sealed plastic water bottles. 

Fireworks are legal in unincorporated El Paso County, but anyone who plans an at-home fireworks show should follow some safety tips from the Federal Emergency Management Agency's U.S. Fire Administration: 

-- Don't allow children to play with fireworks. Even sparklers can reach 1,800 degrees -- hot enough to melt gold and cause third-degree burns. 
-- Steer clear of others. Fireworks may backfire or shoot in the wrong direction. 
-- Never throw or point fireworks at someone, even in jest. 
-- Don't try to make your own fireworks. 
-- Fireworks are explosives -- treat them accordingly. 

In 2007, U.S. hospital emergency rooms treated nearly 10,000 people for fireworks-related injuries, an increase from 9,200 in 2006, according to the Fire Administration's Web site, Eleven people died from fireworks in 2007, including a 7-year-old boy who was struck in the chest by a 2-inch mortar and a teenager who was struck in the head by an artillery shell that another teen had pointed at him. 

While fireworks are legal in portions of El Paso County, they are strictly prohibited in Colorado Springs, Manitou Springs and Fountain. Anyone caught using or possessing illegal fireworks may be fined up to $500 and sentenced up to 90 days in jail, Colorado Springs Police Department officials said. 

Traffic is expected to be heavy prior to and after the July 4 Academy activities. Those traveling to and from the Academy should expect delays and plan accordingly.