Celebrating Safely

It's a national tradition to celebrate by making a great noise, but it also can become a personal tragedy if people set off illegal fireworks and don't follow basic safety rules for legal fireworks.Anecdotal evidence can be as convincing as solid research in some cases, such as the ill effects of illegal fireworks.

A quick online search showed these events:

  • A Medford man blew off his hand off while holding a firecracker. 

  • Illegal fireworks touched off a fire destroying a South Los Angeles carpet store.

  • Two men nearly set a fire truck ablaze after shooting off illegal fireworks in Arcata, California.

  • Police found 76 boxes of illegal fireworks in a home in Aurora, Colorado.

And this was before July 4 celebrations started.

Exploding fireworks are illegal in many places, but people — and seemingly police — widely ignore safety warnings, threats of tickets and stories of self-maiming injuries. They throw caution to the wind as they light fuses for devices that whir, rocket, explode and spin, sometimes totally out of control.

Since the Founding Fathers sanctioned the idea of loud celebration to commemorate our nation's independence, it is inevitable Americans will set off fireworks before, on and after July 4.

The least you can do is follow some basic safety tips. Buy legal fireworks. Don't hold fireworks in your hand. Don't point fireworks at anyone, even in jest. Light one device at a time. Keep a bucket of water or a hose nearby in case of an accident. Watch out for dry brush. Soak unused fireworks in a bucket of water before disposing of them in the trash. Have pity for pets with sensitive ears.

Or you can take the family and friends to a professional fireworks display, which is bigger and better than what you can — or should — do in your front driveway.

You can be a good parent and a good neighborhood, create great memories and live to tell about it.