Summer traditions aren't always safest traditions


Fireworks are a fun summer spectacle the whole family can enjoy. Millions across the country gathered to watch these colorful displays light up the night sky last weekend and on Tuesday, and similar shows will continue all summer.

Unlike some other parts of the country, however, New York does not allow the purchase or use of fireworks by anyone who is not a licensed professional with a permit.

Not that this law stops anyone, however. It may be illegal to buy, use, sell or transport fireworks in the state, but it’s not hard to make a quick run to a nearby state like Pennsylvania or Massachusetts, where buying them is legal, and simply bring them back home.

“I know many New Yorkers are eager to celebrate Independence Day this year, but we must ensure our celebrations are safe and fun,” New York Secretary of State Robert Rodriguez has said. “Around this holiday, the biggest threats to safety are very close to home.

“The Fourth of July is one of the holidays with the highest number of accidents.”

No matter how they’re obtained, these pyrotechnics can be extremely dangerous. Every year, nearly 10,000 people around the country — many between 20 and 24 — are treated for fireworks-related injuries. That’s one every hour of every day. The injuries can range from minor to severe burns and lacerations to the loss of limbs and, in rare cases, even death.

While the use of firecrackers, bottle rockets, roman candles, spinners and other fireworks is illegal and highly discouraged, there are still far too many people willing to take the risk. That’s why the state’s consumer protection division advises anyone handling fireworks take necessary safety precautions:

Follow instructions on the packaging.

• Keep a supply of water nearby.

• Light only one firework at a time.

• Never attempt to relight a “dud.”

• Never, under any circumstances, point or throw fireworks toward anything or anyone.

In some parts of the state, ground-mounted and handheld sparklers — known for their shower of colored sparks and crackling sound — are permitted outdoors, provided they meet guidelines governing the amount of pyrotechnic material inside. But that doesn’t mean these sparklers are harmless and safe for children to use. They can heat up to 800 degrees — hot enough to melt gold — and can easily set fire to clothing or hair.

Not only are fireworks illegal to use and own, but they are also a nuisance for neighbors and pets.

Loud noises can traumatize animals, and in some instances even set off car alarms.

The incendiary devices can also lead to property damage and fires in addition to injuries.

Let’s face it, nobody wants to spend a summer night in the emergency room — or weeks of the summer in a hospital burn unit. Parents should talk with their children about the hazards that can occur when handling illegal fireworks.

To protect yourself and your family, celebrate responsibly by attending one of the dozens of licensed fireworks displays conducted by professionals across the region.

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