I have to confess that I love setting off fireworks – the smell of gunpowder, the flashes of colors, the whoosh of speeding missiles, and the visceral thump of the explosions make for a wonderful experience. The danger and the invariable near-misses only add to the irresistible nature of fireworks!

But just so I can still get invited to events hosted by sane, normal folks, let me make a few points clear.  To those of you who love the colorful explosions as much as I do, but would rather avoid a personal visit with me in the ER on the night of the Fourth, say hello to your new best friend: a five gallon bucket filled with clean water.

Start a small fire? Dump some water on it. Put all used sparklers in the water, the wires get hot. Douse all “duds”.  If you happen to accidentally burn a body part, cool it in the water, and then rinse thoroughly. You can even dump the water on an unsuspecting friend, or start a water fight after all of the fireworks are gone.

Do you really need to be reminded that shooting bottle rockets at your siblings is ill-advised? Do I need to show you pictures of the mangled hands of people who had M-80s go off in their hands or explain the permanent damage it did to their eyes and ears? Well, instead of horrifying you, I will give you a few tips from fireworkssafety.org for a safe and happy Fourth of July. Many of these tips are based on plain old common sense:

  • Know your fireworks; read cautionary labels and performance descriptions before lighting them.
  • Wear safety glasses, and light one firework at a time, then quickly move away.
  • Use fireworks outdoors in a clear area, away from buildings, vehicles, dry vegetation or combustible materials.
  • Never relight a “dud” firework. Wait 20 minutes, and then soak it in a bucket of water.
  • Never carry fireworks in your pocket or shoot them into metal or glass containers.
  • Report illegal explosives, like M-80s and quarter sticks, to the fire or police department.
  • Homemade fireworks? Nope.
  • Mixing alcohol and fireworks? Nope.
  • A responsible, sober adult present? Yes.

Be safe, have fun, be safe.

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