PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Explosions to demonstrate just how dangerous, and unpredictable, fireworks can be.

Officials with the UPMC Mercy burn center and the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police Bomb Squad are stressing safety when it comes to fireworks.

The number of injuries from the explosives goes up dramatically in the weeks surrounding Independence Day. Children are often victims, even sparklers create a major risk.

“From fireworks, we see significant facial injuries, eye injuries and hand injuries,” said Jenny Ziembicki with the burn center.

The Bomb Squad used confiscated, homemade fireworks to blow up first a cantaloupe and then a watermelon.

Officials say one of the biggest problems with making fireworks at home or buying them at one of those roadside stands is that you don’t know what you’re getting.

“Is it good gun powder they’re getting?” asks Dr. Carlos Schrader. “Is it good pyrotechnics they are getting? They put them together, they may have a bad mix, meaning when they put all these chemicals and powders together, is it good? Is it (the) correct ratio?”

It’s not just fireworks that present a real burn danger this time of year, but also grills, even campfires.

“Whenever you do outdoor activities, you really should think about having a safe perimeter around anything that you do,” says Ziembicki, “whether it be the campfire or the grilling.”

Never use gasoline to get campfires or grills going. The gas could cause the flames to quickly spread out of control, possibly to a home or yard.

As for the fireworks, steer clear altogether.

“Leave the pyrotechnics to the professionals, we have some of the greatest ones in the area – Zambelli and Pyrotechnics Company,” said Schrader. “We have them every year down at the point and all during the summer time. What better way to see them than to watch professionals do it?”

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