Nothing stirs the patriotic soul like an appropriately extravagant Independence Day celebration. We Americans flock annually to watch a parade, host or attend a barbeque, followed later by a spectacular, more peaceful version of “bombs bursting in air.”
Fireworks displays are big business representing millions of dollars each year. The big municipal shows are left to the highly paid, and very well trained pyrotechnic experts. A good thing, since we are dealing with real explosives with genuine killing capacity.
Handling the big, spectacular fireworks, your local veteran’s association shoots on July 4th can be deadly. Hopefully, none of us would even think of trying to ignite the ‘big guns.’ Nevertheless, the smaller, retail version of fireworks available at roadside stands at this time of the year can be just as dangerous.
Before you invest in a smaller version of the big show for your family, know that even simple sparklers – considered by most to be child’s play – can and do injure and maim users every year.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, sparklers account for more than a quarter of all fireworks-related emergency room visits. Children under five years old account for over half of these injuries. (Sparklers burn at around 2,000 degrees. That’s hot enough to melt some metals and certainly not the usual toy we would put into the hands of our little ones.)
We here at The Millar Law Firm don’t want to rain on your family’s July 4th parade, but we do urge you to use extreme caution as you celebrate our country’s liberty. Sticking to the following rules can help make your Independence Day festivities safer:
- Don’t leave children and fireworks alone without close adult supervision.
- Very young children should never handle fireworks – including sparklers.
- Mixing fireworks and adult beverages or recreational drugs can be a recipe for disaster.
- Fireworks should be ignited on the ground, not in your hands.
- For your own home display, pick a place away from houses, sheds, and flammable material like dry grass. Houses are often lost when a stray spark goes rogue.
- Just as with guns, fireworks should never be pointed or aimed at other people. They are meant to explode, after all.
- Keep a bucket of water and a hose nearby to drown your spent fireworks and those that fail to explode.
- Never, ever buy or use illegal fireworks – they are too dangerous for untrained hands, even adult ones.
Fireworks are meant to be enjoyed with great caution. Your best and safest option is to drag the lawn chairs to a park or other place where the professionals light up the sky in celebratory spectacle, leaving your family’s fingers and toes where they belong – still attached.
Oh – and just one other reminder. July 4th celebrations across the country seem to bring out the world’s worst drivers. It is the deadly holiday we Americans celebrate, accounting for more highway deaths than any other, so please - be careful out there.
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