A safe Fourth of July is much happier

Published 10:49 am Thursday, July 9, 2009

Unfortunately, the Fourth of July I still remember from more than 20 years ago, was not from the beautiful fireworks display like the year we were under the St. Louis arch, but the close call we had.

Finding some old fireworks, which I am sure had been stored improperly and had probably been damp at one time, my family headed out to the back of the five acres to create our own show.

I am squeamish anyway about fireworks and would rather leave these things to the experts.

I stood back quite far that year, with my daughter in front between my legs. She was probably about five or six.

Most of the fireworks went off fine, until the one which changed course and headed directly into our path.

As quick as any mother protecting her young, I grabbed her up just as the rocket shot past where her head was a second ago and burned the hair on my leg.

That experience has kept me either at a sanctioned display or inside during any fireworks shows.

I have always found the idea of handing a child a sharp stick with an extremely hot flame on the end another really stupid idea.

The kids run around, not watching each other with these sparklers each year.

Not to throw a damper on anyone’s celebration, I just think people should be careful with their fireworks celebrations and especially when young children are around.

Here are some safety tips for handling fireworks/sparklers from TNT Fireworks East President Tommy Glasgow.

€ Remember to keep children and pets away from all consumer fireworks. By taking the following simple, precautionary steps, Americans can enjoy this time-honored tradition in style, while preventing unnecessary injuries:

€ Once you’ve made your fireworks purchase, keep them in a safe place… out of the reach of children until you’re ready to use them.

€ Young children should not light or handle fireworks.

€ Use good common sense and always read and follow all warnings and instructions that appear on a firework item or its packaging.

€ Always keep a hose and a bucket of water nearby in case of emergencies. Used fireworks should be soaked in a bucket of water prior to being discarded.

€ Use fireworks outdoors, only in clear areas, away from houses, buildings, fences, dry grass, and trees. Your fireworks display area should also be smooth, flat, level and swept clean of debris.

€ Never attempt to fix or relight a firework – if a firework fails to light, do not relight it. Place it in a bucket of water and make sure it is fully soaked before discarding it.

€ Animals are sometimes frightened by fireworks. To protect your “best friends,” keep them indoors – away from the loud noise – and secure.

€ As with any purchase, check the credibility of the distributor to make sure their fireworks are reliable, legal and come from a licensed source.

€ Remember – not all fireworks are the same. Be sure to purchase products that are manufactured by a trusted, established company that puts safety first.

€ Do not smoke when handling any type of firework.

€ Do not use fireworks while under the influence of alcohol.

€ Always use products that are legal in your community and your state.

Follow the rules, stay out of the emergency room and enjoy the holiday.

Marcia Steffens is the associate editor of the Niles Daily Star and editor of the Cassopolis Vigilant and the Edwardsburg Argus. She can be reached at: marcia.steffens@leaderpub.com.