Someone asked me if I was still afraid of fireworks. I was puzzled by the question until my friend reminded me of a column I wrote years ago where I admitted my fear and encouraged the public to take precautions with fireworks.
Yes, I'm still afraid and, yes, we all need to be careful with fireworks, especially around children.
Here is an updated version of the column my friend spoke of. Have a happy Fourth of July.
When it comes to handling fireworks, I'm a big baby. I can't help it. They scare me.
Even those little, supposedly harmless, sparklers scare me. I'm always worried that one of those little sparkly thingies will fly off and catch my hair on fire or burn one of my eyeballs out. While other people can light a firecracker, fling it into the air and scream with delight when it pops, all I can envision is the thing going off in my hand and me screaming in pain.
Don't even get me started on those bottle rockets. I know that you are supposed to set them up in a bottle, light the fuse and watch as it flies up into the night sky and explode in a flash of color. Go ahead, you stand there and watch it explode in a flash of color. I'm staying behind a tree because that bottle is somehow going to tip over and that little "rocket" is going to end up flying toward me like a screaming, out-of-control missile of destruction.
My teenage boys laugh at me. They say I am silly and that I am too uptight about being around fireworks.
I say, better safe than sorry.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, each year about 10,000 people in the United States are treated in emergency rooms for fireworks-related injuries, and among those, 34 percent had injuries suffered when fireworks exploded on or near their head.
The safety group said that in 2011 fireworks caused 17,800 fires resulting in eight deaths, 40 injuries and $32 million in damage.
Fourth of July should be a fun time andhe fun if everyone uses caution and common sense.
The National Council on Fireworks Safety offers the following advice:
Use fireworks outdoors only.
Obey laws. If fireworks are not legal where you live, don't use them.
Have water handy.
Only use fireworks as intended. Don't try to alter them or combine them.
Never relight a "dud" that doesn't go off. Leave it alone for 20 minutes, soak it in water and throw it away.
Spectators should keep a safe distance from the shooter and the shooter should wear safety glasses.
Only those 12 and older should be allowed to handle sparklers.
Never set off homemade fireworks.
Better yet, let the professionals handle the area.
I'll try not be such a big baby around fireworks — as long as you keep those sparklers away from me and I can stay behind a tree when the bottle rockets go off.