There is no doubt the best day of the year is the Fourth of July. On the 4th everyone brings out their toys, it may be a boat, motorcycle, or maybe just a day at the beach. Most of us will enjoy watching some fireworks, and a good number of us will also enjoy lighting a few fireworks.
For me the worst day to work is the Fourth of July. It’s not that being at the station is any different, but when everyone else is out having fun it’s tough to be stuck in the station. The day usually consists of a parade in the morning, and several block party appearances throughout the day.
Block parties can easily be divided into two categories. There are the people that really enjoy meeting the firefighters, and then there are those that request the fire truck just because they can and since it’s free maybe it will occupy the kids for a while. I’m not sure why but everyone thinks it’s funny to offer a beer to the crew, even though they know the answer in advance.
In the evening we were sometimes able to light a few fireworks of our own, but the days of fireworks behind the station are pretty much gone.
Every year you can read about injuries and fatalities from fireworks. The latest fireworks problem seems to be related to YouTube videos. If you search for fireworks fatalities you will find people that thought it was a good idea to place a mortar tube on top of their head. Unfortunately these stunts didn’t work and those trying to put on a show were instantly killed.
There are a lot of ways that we can hurt ourselves with fireworks. One of the most common minor injuries that happen during fireworks incidents include burns. I have burned myself several times while lighting fireworks, and I have also ruined a few shirts that ended up covered with burn holes. All fireworks are made to burn fast and in pretty colors. The fast burning is what propels the fireworks and also what makes it dangerous. Eye injuries and burns are common on the 4th.
Fireworks also pose a threat when the ground is especially dry and brush fires can start from the sparks of fireworks from leaves, dry grass, and many other materials. When I was younger a pile of leaves ignited from some fireworks sparks, we noticed the fire just before it spread to a very dry forest area.
As you read over the different fireworks accidents you will find there is usually a common contributing factor. That factor is alcohol. Having a couple beers on the 4th is pretty common, actually it is hard to find someone that hasn’t been drinking on the 4th. Drugs or alcohol always diminishes your reaction time. Whether you are driving a car, operating machinery, or lighting fireworks, alcohol isn’t a good idea. Exploding fireballs launching from a pipe don’t belong near people that have been drinking.
Now is when you expect me to tell you to stay safe and leave the fireworks to the professionals. I enjoy lighting fireworks as much as the next guy. What I can tell you is to enjoy your fireworks when you are sober. You will think clearer and have just as good a time if you enjoy the fireworks away from alcohol.