The Fourth of July is usually associated with parades celebrating freedom, the birth of America and “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Fireworks, perhaps symbolic of the “bombs bursting in air” from the national anthem, have been a traditional after-dark activity to mark Independence Day.
But fireworks can be dangerous for nonprofessionals.
“There is a reason why fireworks are illegal in New York state — to prevent needless serious injury,” Deputy State Fire Administrator John Mueller said in a statement. “People must refrain from using fireworks, not just to avoid arrest but to ensure that everyone has a safe and accident-free holiday.”
Officials say it’s a better idea to watch professional fireworks demonstrations.
According to a report by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, 73 percent of the 8,600 firework-related injuries in 2010 occurred in the month surrounding the Fourth of July.
Included in the CPSC report were 900 injuries associated with firecrackers, 1,200 from sparklers and 400 from bottle rockets, the state Department of Health said in a statement.
Injuries range from burns to hearing loss to puncture wounds.
The health department attributes these injuries to several causes, including curious children who want to examine why a firework didn’t explode, a misaligned firecracker striking a bystander and fast-fuse firecrackers exploding before they’re thrown.
Fireworks are illegal in New York, including firecrackers, bottle rockets, snakes and sparklers.
Still, many New York residents travel across the Pennsylvania border to buy their fireworks.
“This year, I urge people to avoid needless injuries and fire damage by leaving fireworks to the professionals,” Mueller said. “Attending a public fireworks display is a safe, enjoyable and legal way to celebrate Independence Day.”
The state Department of Health also recommends using earplugs during a professional display, staying a safe distance away and keeping pets at home.
Also, the state Department of Transportation reminds drivers that although fireworks visibility can be prominent from the highway, parking along highways and bridges to watch fireworks is illegal because of the danger to the parkers and other motorists.
Fireworks aren’t the only source of danger over the Fourth of July weekend. It’s also the deadliest holiday of the year because of alcohol-impaired driving, according to the law firm of Martin, Harding and Mazzotti.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that nearly 51 percent of all deadly traffic crashes on the Fourth of July are related to alcohol.
For that reason, the law firm is providing free cab rides home on Monday. Those in need of a ride, can call the law firm at 1-800-LAW-1010 and a cab will be dispatched.