Breaking News Bar

Our view: Consider that 45% of fireworks injuries are kids under 12

updated: 7/1/2020 10:49 AM

Social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic has energized some do-it-yourselfers, with booms in gardening, home projects and the like.

Some booms, however, should be left to professionals -- and that includes the fireworks that are often the biggest part of our American Fourth of July traditions.

This year, southern Illinois skies will be largely free of the elaborate displays. Except for a handful of towns -- Marion, Harrisburg, Eldorado and Herrin -- most communities, trying to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, have nixed next weekend's fireworks.

That has authorities concerned that people will be tempted to buy fireworks in Indiana and launch their own. In fact, many of our towns are already seeing a spike in fireworks complaints.

Setting off fireworks is a bad idea -- and not just because those who do so are subject to fines.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, there were about 10,000 fireworks-related injuries that required a visit to the ER last year, and 73% of them took place between June 21 and July 21.

Mike Figolah, past president of the Illinois Fire Safety Alliance, said 45% of those injured by fireworks every year are children under 12 years old.

"When things go bad with fireworks," Figolah said, "they go bad terribly."

This year, he predicts, injuries will go up as an increasing number of amateurs try to take the place of professional displays. Even sparklers are scary -- depending on the type they burn anywhere from 1800 to 3000 degrees Fahrenheit.

It's not worth the risk, people. And while the pandemic has substantially changed the way we will mark July 4 on Saturday, there are several safe options for celebrating.

For those who want to stay home, there are wonderful viewing options on television -- from PBS' "A Capitol Fourth" to TCM's showings of patriotic classics. And for subscribers to Disney+, Friday marks the debut of the filmed version of the Broadway blockbuster "Hamilton," starring creator Lin-Manuel Miranda (and Illinois native Phillipa Soo). It's an extraordinary production, and a fitting tale of an immigrant Founding Father who had a profound impact on American history.

It's natural to miss our more traditional July 4 celebrations -- including spectacular fireworks displays. But staging your own isn't worth a trip to the emergency room.

Search Carbondale Times