NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The big Fourth of July holiday is just a week away, and of course the celebration will include plenty of fireworks.
On Long Island, police staged a spectacular demonstration showing how dangerous fireworks can be in the wrong hands.
An immense explosion filled a cordoned off section of the parking lot at Smith Point County Beach in Suffolk County, where police staged a blast using seized fireworks that they placed inside a small shed.
As the shed disintegrated, the police commissioner called it a stark reminder why homeowners should not bring in fireworks from out of state and then store them on their property.
“Fireworks are extremely dangerous and illegal in New York State,” Commissioner Timothy Sini said.
Every year, thousands of people are injured by fireworks. On the Fourth of July alone, hundreds wind up in hospital emergency wounds — many with disfiguring injuries.
“Typically, they cause injury to the face and hands,” Dr. Eric Decena from Good Samaritan Hospital tells CBS2. “People can lose fingers and whole extremities and it can even lead to death.”
Just two years ago, 11 people were killed by fireworks accidents across the country — the most fatalities in 15 years.
Police say the names of popular fireworks like “open fire” and “cluster bomb” are warning enough of the danger, but they point out that most fireworks injuries occur from what many people view as harmless sparklers.
“Sparklers can burn up to 2,000 degrees and cause third degree burns in children,” Commissioner Sini said Tuesday.
He stressed that it’s important to leave fireworks to the pros and enjoy watching the many shows available from a safe distance.
Some residents say they have friends and neighbors who will ignore the warnings, they just hope they’ll be smart enough not to endanger others — especially children.
“Common sense, that’s all they have to have is common sense,” Bay Shore resident Diana Rojo said. “If it seems dangerous don’t do it.”
Meanwhile, police say there will be stepped up patrols to seize illegal fireworks.
Cops warn that violators will be ticketed and depending on the situation could even be arrested.
As WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall reported, police will also be keeping a close eye on the roads and the water for intoxicated operators.
“The July 4th holiday is the most deadly holiday of the year when you consider driving while intoxicated crashes, as well as injuries caused by fireworks,” Sini said.