CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - Fireworks and the Fourth of July go hand in hand, but there can be a dangerous downside. The numbers don't lie: thousands of people are hurt by fireworks each year.
"It's not something you expect to happen to you," said Eric McLaughlin.
McLaughlin and his friend Colby Johnson found out the hard way, when they made a homemade explosive that blew up and burned them severely outside their Raytown, Missouri home.
"We're lucky to be a live right now," said Johnson.
Believe it or not, there aren't that many injuries in the Heartland, according to officials.
"Our calls have really not gone up a whole lot during fireworks season," said Mark Starnes, firefighter for the Cape Girardeau Fire Department.
Starnes says his team doesn't respond to a lot of related fires or injuries. In fact, he says there are only about five or six per day during the holiday season.
"I think for the most part people in Cape are pretty cautious about what they do with fireworks," Starnes said.
Just to be on the safe side, though, officials recommend taking precautions seriously. First, it's recommended to keep small children away from the fireworks and make sure they aren't pointed toward anyone when they go off.
Another thing one might not think about, the clothing he or she wears.
"I'd suggest wearing full length jeans and shirts," said paramedic Gale Phillips. "Stay away from halter tops and shorts."
Officials also remind everyone not to be under the influence when setting off the fireworks.
"Alcohol and fireworks don't mix," said Phillips.
However, if the unthinkable really happens and someone does accidentally get hurt or cause a fire, officials urge people to call for help as soon as possible.
"If you feel like it's getting out of control, the best thing to do is let the fire department handle it," Starnes said.
Officials hope these tips will save people from a lot of pain and time in the emergency room.
"You can only plan with fire so many times before you get burned," said McLaughlin.
Fireworks laws and ordinances are different for every town. Anyone unsure of what rules in his or her area are should contact the local law officials.
Officials say if anyone is worried about safety, people should just got to a fireworks show and let the professionals handle the explosives.