I love our country and appreciate all the freedoms we enjoy (and mostly take for granted). I’m very thankful that Independence Day for us wasn’t a day of terror, sorrow, and loss as Bastille Day was in France. I firmly believe there were many terrorist plans in place and that we were protected by Homeland Security and by our country’s intelligence community and military. But I’m not writing about politics today. I’m writing about fireworks.
I’ve been a nurse my entire adult life, and if that has taught me nothing else it’s taught me that helmets should be worn on motorcycles and fireworks should be set off by experts. Organ transplant programs here flourished when the state across the river didn’t have a helmet law. Bad news for the wind-in-their-hair donors, but good news for those waiting on lungs, livers, hearts, kidneys, etc.
We also have a spectacular hand transplant program here. I’d never given the hand transplant program much thought until I read a news article many years ago about a particularly successful transplant. It had a picture of the young man smiling and showing off his “new hand”. The article mentioned that he’d lost the hand during an accident involving fireworks. As I read on I discovered that most transplant patients (at least around here) have lost their hand while setting off fireworks. Not operating dangerous, complicated machinery; not while repairing cars or farm machinery; not even while arc-welding, righting overturned train cars, or other dangerous occupations. Setting off fireworks. Head-up: picture of actual damage to hand from fireworks below.
I called the non-emergency number for my local police this year after being kept up half the night by a trembling, terrified eighty-pound dog trying to burrow inside my skin three nights in a row (and it wasn’t even the fourth of July yet!) I didn’t complain, just asked politely if the noise ordinance after ten-o-clock would be enforced after the holiday was over. I was told that they “pretty much let people do what they wanted unless they started shooting fireworks at each other.” That’s helpful.
I live in an old neighborhood, by the way. With overhead power, cable, and phone lines, and lots of flammable mature trees. And the fire station is close, but just across the railroad tracks. So a fire truck or an ambulance could be three minutes away or “damn, that took out a dozen houses” slow. So although we don’t do amateur fireworks shows we’re still at risk because of neighbors. Same neighbors every year. At least these days I’m not getting up at three on weekends and holidays to go to work.
So here’s my advice for your family’s health and happiness: Buy some sparklers for the kids, and warn them they truly could kill each other with them. Eat watermelon, burgers, and hot dogs. Decorate a wagon for a neighborhood parade. Have three-legged races, water balloon fights, and enjoy yourselves. Just leave the fireworks to the professionals so you don’t end up in the E.R. with everyone referring to you as “the dumbass in Room 3”.