Dry weather adds even more risks for Fourth of July traditions | Commentary

Fireworks and the Fourth of July have gone hand in hand for more than 225 years.

“Yesterday the 4th of July, being the anniversary of the Independence of the United States of America, was celebrated in this city with demonstrations of joy and festivity,” reported the Pennsylvania Evening Post on July 5, 1777. ships and gallies in the river were drawn up before the city, dressed in the gayest manner, with the colors of the United States and streamers displayed. ”

After each ship’s cannon fired a 13-gun salute (in honor of the 13 colonies), “the evening was closed with the ringing of bells,” the Evening Post reported, “and at night there was a grand exhibition of fireworks … on the Commons, and the city was beautifully illuminated. ”

But along with fireworks’ illuminating history in the United States, we hear about the dangers — and rightfully so.

Fireworks were involved in an estimated 15,600 injuries treated in US hospital emergency rooms, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s 2020 Fireworks Annual Report. Firecrackers were the leading cause of injuries, followed by sparklers, which can burn at up to 1,800 degrees.

Bystanders typically account for up to half of those injured by fireworks, meaning adults and children must be vigilant, even when just observing fireworks displays. Prevent Blindness, a nonprofit eye health and safety organization, urges the public to attend only authorized public fireworks displays conducted by licensed operators, such as those at this Saturday’s fireworks show at Skyview Lake in Norfolk.

And considering the dry weather conditions so far this summer, that may be a good idea.

Those conditions led the Norfolk Fire Division to go so far as asking residents to avoid using fireworks the past two days because of the fire dangers. And residents in Pierce were urged to use extreme caution with fireworks.

“Any fires that start will spread very rapidly and will likely be very difficult to contain and control,” according to the Pierce fire department.

Fireworks start an average of 18,500 fires each year, including 1,300 structure fires, 300 vehicle fires and nearly 17,000 other fires, officials said. Yet with fireworks allowed in Norfolk through Monday night, residents likely saw and heard those warnings go unheeded over the past two days.

We aren’t suggesting that Nebraska follow Massachusetts’ lead as the only state that doesn’t allow consumer fireworks, with more hot weather on tap, we at least urge residents to continue to use caution this holiday weekend.

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