Every year in the United States, we celebrate the Fourth of July with community parades, picnics, barbecues, and fireworks – the things of which happy memories are made. But sadly, Independence Day also includes tragic events resulting from fireworks use. The St. Louis area has already seen one boy suffer a severe hand injury (loss of fingers). The safest way to enjoy them is through public displays conducted by professional pyrotechnicians hired by communities. The Troy Rotary Club is again sponsoring a fireworks display Fourth of July evening at the county fairgrounds and there will be a fireworks display in the City of Winfield.
However, if you must fire off your own, learning fireworks safety tips can help ensure that everyone has a happy and safe summer holiday. In 2010, fireworks caused an estimated 15,500 reported fires, including 1,100 total structure fires, 300 vehicle fires, and 14,100 outside and other fires. These fires resulted in an estimated eight reported civilian deaths, 60 civilian injuries and $36 million in direct property damage.
In 2010, U.S. hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 8,600 people for fireworks related injuries; 57 percent of 2010 emergency room fireworks-related injuries were to the extremities and 37 percent were to the head.
The risk of fireworks injury was highest for children ages 5-14, with more than twice the risk for the general population.
How about a new, safer and more meaningful celebation?
“Let’s ring freedom bells!”
These are the words of President John F. Kennedy when he proclaimed the ringing of the bells nationwide on Independence Day, July 4, 1963. There is a national movement to get the American people to ring bells again on this Fourth of July and each Fourth every year from now on.
When the Declaration of Independence was adopted by Congress on July 4, 1776, crowds that day went wild with joy and pride. In today’s observances, the true importance of this day should be given greater emphasis. In the words of John Adams, the occasion of our nation’s freedom “ought to be commemorated as a day of deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to our God almighty.”
As grateful Americans, some hope to resurrect the tradition of the ringing of the bells. Let us be in tune with each other and history by ringing bells at 2 p.m. on this July 4th in honor of the 237th anniversary of our independence, thanking God for his blessings on our land.
So get a bell if you do not have one. Urge your church and community (if they have one) to ring it and ring it loud and clear Thursday. If you don’t have a bell, shake your keys or tap something on a glass to make it ring or find a bell-ringing sound on your smart phone. As we celebrate our freedom, also celebrate the lives of those who sacrificed for that freedom.
By Bob Simmons