It's the day after the Fourth of July, but that doesn't mean the celebrations are over. Really, having the holiday on a Wednesday just enables the party to last through the weekend. Independence Day means all the traditional American rituals -- baseball, hot dogs, apple pie ... and fireworks.
Fireworks displays are synonymous with summer here in the U.S. of A. I can't imagine a summer without them. When handled by qualified professionals, fireworks can make you laugh or just gape in amazement at the spectacle unfolding in the skies.
Unfortunately, lots of people try to have their own homegrown fireworks displays, and the results can be as bad as it gets. According to the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission, during the month surrounding July 4, an average of 200 people will visit emergency rooms every day due to incidents involving fireworks. Nearly half of those injuries are to fingers and hands, more than half are burns, and two-thirds will be to the male of the species (who apparently don't have enough ways to maim or kill themselves.) In 2011, four deaths were related to the use of fireworks.
Medical insurance obviously becomes involved in accidents like these (sidenote: 45 percent of injuries occur to the "young and healthy" people under age 25 who supposedly don't need health insurance.) However, the liability coverage in a homeowners insurance policy may come into play if someone who is just watching the fireworks gets hurt. From a safety and insurance standpoint, it makes sense to take great care with these explosives.
So, if you feel you must ignore New York law and drive across the state line to buy fireworks, please follow these recommendations from the CPSC so that you will retain all 10 fingers:
- Keep them away from kids. We tell kids not to play with matches for a reason.
- Do not try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not fully ignited. The main event could occur just as you do.
- Keep a water source on hand (hose, bucket filled with water) in case things go wrong.
- Light them one at a time and stand back from them.
- Don't shoot them off in metal or glass containers (can you say, "shrapnel"?)
And a few last pieces of advice that should go without saying, but I'll say them anyway:
- Don't point them at people before shooting them off. Your aim may be better than you think.
- Drinking alcoholic beverages and shooting off fireworks is a bad idea on more levels than I have to time to count. If you've been pounding beers, watch the display from a safe distance. On TV, for instance.
And have a fun and safe summer.