July 4 is synonymous with summer. For most people it is a day off work, filled with cookouts, family gatherings and fireworks. We celebrate the birth of our country, proudly waving our flags in the air and donning our best patriotic garb. What could be better than enjoying the sun and the fun?
Unfortunately, there is a dark side to this summer holiday. The National Safety Council deems this the most dangerous holiday. In 2005, about 200 traffic fatalities and 10,600 nonfatal, disabling traffic injuries occurred from 6 p.m. on July 3 through July 4.
We have made our plea before, but we will do it again if you want to drink at that barbecue, please don't drive.
In addition to the dangers of drunk driving, fireworks also are a July 4 staple. In 2005, the NSC reported almost 11,000 people were treated for fireworks-related injuries, almost half younger than 15.
The NSC advises taking in shows done only by professionals. And, by Ohio law, in order to display fireworks you must be at least 21, complete an application through the state fire marshal; have a valid exhibitor's license from another state or provide a letter from a current Ohio license holder attesting to your expertise handling and discharging fireworks safely and securely; pay a $50 fee; and successfully pass a written test administered by the fire marshal.
In spite of all that, it would be naive to believe no Ohioans are planning to illegally and inexpertly set off fireworks. If you are determined to break the law, we beg you to at least follow the NSC's safety advice.
Never allow young children to handle fireworks.
Older children should use fireworks only under close adult supervision.
Light fireworks outdoors in a clear area away from onlookers, houses and flammable materials.
Light one device at a time; maintain a safe distance after lighting.
Do not allow any running or horseplay while fireworks are being used.
Never ignite devices in a container.
Do not try to re-light or handle malfunctioning fireworks; douse and soak them with water and discard them safely.
Keep a bucket of water nearby to fully extinguish fireworks that don't go off or in case of fire.
From the Reflector staff to all of you, we wish you a safe and happy holiday.