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Commentary: Yearly reminder why I hate firecrackers

I am sitting here reading double full page ads for firecrackers and an eight page fireworks ad insert. I am reading labels like "Master Blaster," "Five Inch Super Shells," "Dakota Dynamite," "Dakota Nightmare," "Dominator," "Cruze Missiles," and "Memory Surprise," and while I am reading and gritting my teeth, I have a memory surprise. My memory shows me a stupid 10-year-old kid (me) standing there screaming in pain because a firecracker, thought to be fizzled out, blew up in my hand. Then my memory replays a later scene when my 10-year-old daughter, Goldilocks, stands screaming in pain because a supposedly fizzled out firecracker blew up in her hand. I cried too that day. And my memory replays pictures I've seen of fingers and hands blown off by firecrackers. And finally, my memory reminds me what I say every year at this time, "I hate firecrackers."

Yes, I hate firecrackers. Not fireworks displays shot up by community professionals, experts concerned with safety, but firecrackers shot by kids and immature adults.

Let me review the year 2015 with you. It was the worst year for fireworks injuries in 15 years. Eleven people died that year and 11,900 people were taken to the hospital with blast injuries. Thirty-five percent of those seen in the emergency rooms were children under 15. Nine percent were children under five.

Did you know that even those fun sparklers, where you can write your name in the air after dark ─ little children love them ─ reach 1800 degrees, hot enough to melt gold. Sparklers are the most frequent cause of fireworks injuries. On July 5th last year, a 9-year-old girl in Las

Angeles lost her left hand. Most fireworks injuries are to the fingers and hands. But many are to the eyes and face. The health and safety people are now trying to identify which firework disfigures the most people. The facts are grim and the pictures are gory. Ask emergency responders how much fun fireworks are.

If you want graphic pictures of fireworks injuries, go to You Tube. I watched the medics unwrap one guy's right hand. Three fingers were raw stumps ─ down to the bone. The ring finger was gone completely. Only the little finger was unharmed. I couldn't watch anymore, including the one of a blast that dug into a man's chest.

Independence Day is a great American holiday. Nobody is more patriotic than Americans. We celebrate the words of our Star Spangled Banner ─ "and the rockets' red glare, bombs bursting in air..." It's a time for National pride and summer fun. Fireworks displays are appropriate, spectacular, awesome. I love them as much as anybody. I'm not against having fun. But I cringe at what I've seen and read ─ little kids and adults being burned, disfigured and crippled. Let the professionals shoot the rockets, and let the rest of us and our kids keep our hands off them.

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