Celebrate responsibly, don’t become an emergency

Published 7:14 pm Tuesday, July 2, 2019

On Thursday, the United States will celebrate 243 years of independence as a sovereign nation. With that celebration, Americans nationwide and here in Beaufort County will celebrate in a variety of ways, from street-spanning parades and cookouts to a day on the water and a night of taking in firework displays.

It’s a day that should be spent with friends and family, enjoying good company and reflecting on the freedoms we enjoy in the U.S.A.

But this holiday, in particular, can sometimes turn dangerous.

First and foremost, fireworks come to mind. According to an annual report from the Consumer Product Safety Commission, in 2018, at least five people nationwide lost their lives to direct impacts from fireworks. In all cases, the fatalities involved reloadable aerial devices, more commonly known as mortars, which are illegal in North Carolina.

Beyond that, an estimated 9,100 firework-related injuries were treated in U.S. emergency rooms last year. Of those, approximately 5,600 occurred between June 22, 2018 and July 22, 2018 — with Independence day falling right in the middle. 64% of patients were males and 36% were females, and more than half of those injuries were people under the age of 20. 500 were associated with sparklers and 200 with bottle rockets, two items considered to be relatively safe. 1,000 were associated with firecrackers.

Most people enjoy a good fireworks show (don’t forget to be courteous to neighbors who might have PTSD), but for the most part, these items should be left in the hands of professionals — especially aerial fireworks.

That’s not even to mention the dangers of getting behind the wheel while intoxicated this weekend. Statewide, and across the country, law enforcement will be hot and heavy during the coming weekend. By getting behind the wheel after drinking, not only are you risking tremendous fines and possible jail time, but possibly putting your life and the lives of others at risk.

Have fun this weekend, but please do so safely. Don’t become one of those people who end up in the hospital because of fireworks. With our freedom comes responsibility to practice good judgment and to exercise common sense. To all our readers, we wish a happy and safe Independence Day.