Using mannequins and a watermelon, Orange County public safety officials gave a graphic example of just how dangerous illegal fireworks can be.
The Orange County Sheriff's Department bomb squad lit a fuse, setting off a mortar, causing the watermelon to explode into tiny pieces.
"Fireworks are an inherent part of the Fourth of July, let's face it," said Orange County Fire Authority Chief Brian Fennessy. "Unfortunately, for many, it can turn into an emergency room visit."
OCFA, OCSD and the Orange County Burn Center held a news conference urging people to stay away from illegal fireworks.
They also asked the public to use extra caution even when using the "Safe and Sane" variety, especially around children.
"A child's skin can burn four times more quickly and more deeply than an adult's," said Dr. Andrea Dunkelman, from Orange County Global Medical Center. "This can cause severe burn injuries."
Last year, OCFA says they had 38 calls that required emergency room visits on the Fourth of July, related to fireworks. Officials want families to stick to pre-planned events.
"We encourage you to take advantage of these public celebrations, and leave it to the professionals," said Undersheriff Bob Peterson.
Also represented at the safety meeting, the VA Long Beach Care System. They want people to be sensitive to what fireworks may do to veterans suffering from PTSD.
"Be next to them, hold their hand," said Rich Beam, from the VA Long Beach care system. "Make sure they know you are there with them and they are truly home and safe."
Orange County officials encourage fireworks safety this 4th of July
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