Monday is Independence Day; this weekend will include patriotic parades, concerts, family gatherings, backyard barbecues, outings to parks and beaches -- and pyrotechnic displays. But fireworks should be left to the professionals, to prevent a national celebration from turning into a personal tragedy.
According to the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission, there were 8,800 fireworks-related injuries in the United States in 2009. Two-thirds of those injuries occurred in the four weeks surrounding the July 4 holiday. The National Fire Protection Association reports that fireworks caused more than 18,000 fires in 2009 and were responsible for $38 million in property damage.
More than half the injuries from fireworks involve young people under the age of 20. Damage to hands, eyes, heads, and faces are most common.
More than 1,000 people were hurt in 2009 by sparklers, which are legal in Ohio but dangerous when they are not handled properly. In fact, nearly all reported injuries involve amateurs setting off fireworks in their backyards.
Fireworks are dangerous; responsible adults must drive home that safety message to young people. An M-80 can blow your hand off. Even a sparkler burns at more than 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit and can burn clothes or fuse to bare skin.
Sparklers, smokers, snappers, and snakes can be bought for private use in Ohio. Firecrackers, bottle rockets, Roman candles, fountains, and other fireworks can be sold, but can't legally be used here. The misdemeanor violation is punishable by a fine of as much as $1,000, as much as six months in jail, or both.
In addition to downtown Toledo's "Red, White, KABOOM" spectacular on July 3, professional fireworks will be on display July 2 in Luna Pier and Washington Township; July 3 in Bowling Green, Findlay, Maumee/Perrysburg, Monroe, Oregon, Swanton, and Sylvania; July 4 in Port Clinton, and July 9 in Bedford Township.
Breaking the law is a poor way to celebrate the freedoms that Americans enjoy. Don't let your holiday plans blow up in your face.