Well the 4th of July will be here before you know it and that means lots of people will be spending some of their hard earned dough on backyard consumer fireworks. Even as a kid I could never understand the mentality. Aside from being a colossal waste of money I was taught that fooling around with fireworks is extremely dangerous and that every year in cities and towns all across America thousands of children and adults get seriously injured and even killed in fireworks mishaps. In fact, according to the Consumer Products Safety Commision about 7,000 people were treated in hospital emergency rooms in 2008 for injuries associated with fireworks. More than half of these injuries were burns and most of the injuries involved the hands, eyes, and legs. Here in 2010 more than half of the states completely prohibit or severely restrict the use of consumer fireworks. But at the same time there are 22 states that permit the sale of all or most types of consumer fireworks to residents. That just makes no sense to me at all. I just might find myself in the minority on this issue but for once I think my home state of Rhode Island has got it right. The sale and use of consumer fireworks are totally banned in this state. I guess it's a cultural thing depending on the part of the country in which you reside but for the life of me I have absolutely no idea why these things are permitted anywhere in the country!
The fact of the matter is that few of us think of backyard fireworks for what they really are -- essentially the same weaponry used in military battles, capable of inflicting the same kind of damage. This fact was driven home to me three years ago when a young man who grew up next door to us was killed by an errant firecracker. Andy was just 20 years old. Needless to say his parents and siblings were absolutely devastated. It was a senseless tragedy. And don't forget that it was irresponsible use of pyrotechnics that caused the deaths of 100 people at The Station nightclub here in West Warwick, R.I. back in 2003. Now I suppose that kids will be kids and some are invariably going to get their hands on fireworks. I have nothing but contempt for the individuals and businesses who are making big money off the sale of these backyard fireworks to youngsters. But if I were a parent I would come down hard on my child if I caught him/her with the likes of rockets, artillary shells or firecrackers. Am I all alone here? Furthermore, what I find positively incomprehensible are the adults who shoot off fireworks, particularly those who set them off in front of their kids. What kind of example are they setting, particularly in jurisdictions where they are illegal? Are they just trying to be "cool"? Are these people ever going to grow up? It is an undeniable fact that scores of adults get seriously injured each year fooling around with these items. And the adults tend to purchase the more powerful products. Needless to say there is precious little quality control in the manufacture of these kind of fireworks. Aside from being extremely dangerous and against the law in many communities fireworks scare the hell out of birds and animals of all kinds. Our cat is absolutely petrified when these things start going off. Furthermore, I find many of the people who shoot off fireworks have precious little consideration for their neighbors. I hear these things going off at 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning! Meanwhile, debris from fireworks often start dangerous brush and house fires while releasing poisonous gases into the atmosphere. As far as I am concerned the use of fireworks by private individuals has absolutely no redeeming value!.
Now having said that I do realize that fireworks date all the way back to 7th century China when they were ostensibly used to frighten away evil spirits. Likewise, the reailty is that fireworks displays have been a tradition here in the United States since our country was founded. The fact of the matter is that lots of people really enjoy an impressive display of fireworks. And it is for just this reason that most communities offer free fireworks displays around the 4th of July and on other patriotic holidays. Some people are opposed to public fireworks displays citing the enormous cost, particularly in this era of extremely tight budgets. And they certainly have a point. But if fireworks are to be allowed at all I believe this is the proper venue for them. Consequently, I wish that state and local governments would crack down and ban once and for all the sale and use of all consumer fireworks. It seems to me that the 22 states where backyard fireworks are still legal to purchase and use are recklessly condoning this activity. Plain and simple, this stance fails the common sense test. As far as I am concerned totally banning the use of consumer fireworks is very sound public policy. This is one of those issues where I expect to see a wide variety of opinion. If you feel differently please tell us why. Not recommended!
For more information on consumer fireworks check out the following U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission website: http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/pubs/012.html
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Daytime fireworks include most bottle rockets, smoke balls, firecrackers, and other fireworks that emit very little or no light. Some examples of daytime consumer fireworks include: