Our View: Enjoy those fireworks- but safely

June 27, 2007 11:00 pm

The excitement of waving sparklers once night has fallen, the pop of a firecracker after the long, anticipatory burning of the wick – for many us, both make for sweet memories of summer.

They're also the stuff of injured hands and eyes and even a downright annoyance the neighbors.

So with the Fourth of July holiday upon us, it's time once again to enjoy fireworks – but please always do so with safety and re-spect for others in mind.

Indeed, about 10,000 people are annually treated in emergency rooms for fireworks injuries. Almost half are under 15 years old.

Some quick tips on fireworks use:

•Only use approved fireworks – In Del Norte County, only fireworks with the "Safe and Sane" logo are legal. That's for good reason: Other fireworks are proven dangers to children.

•Don't mix alcohol and fireworks – Safe use of fireworks requires an alert mind and fast reflexes, both of which alcohol diminish.

•Light fireworks at reasonable hours – "Reasonable hours," of course, depends on how close your neighbors are. But after 10 p.m., when most people have put themselves and their children to bed, probably isn't reasonable in built-up areas.

•Avoid using fireworks around animals – Most pets and virtually all livestock are frightened by the loud noises and flashes that fireworks make.

•Never let children light fireworks – Their inexperience with fireworks can lead to them making bad decisions that result in injuries.

•Ensure that fires don't break out – Only light fireworks on a smooth, flat surface away from buildings, dry leaves and flammable materials. Keep a bucket of water in case of a malfunction or fire.

•Make others keep their distance – Be sure other people are out of range before lighting fireworks. Don't allow children to run into this safety zone.

•Give up on the duds – Never try to relight fireworks that have not fully functioned. If relit, they are likely to act erratically.

These simple guidelines hardly take the fun or spectacle out of fireworks. And remember: Showing one's love for this Fourth of July tradition and their country doesn't include trips to the emergency room or keeping the neighbors up all night.