Remember as children, those hazy days when we would run around the backyard on summer nights waving those bright white sparklers?
Yeah, we were idiots back then. So were our parents.
Thankfully today, after decades of emergency room visits, deep burns and house fires caused by careless use of fireworks, we're past all that now, right?
No. We're not.
Thanks to a state law that went into effect in 2015, we now have greater access to the dangerous holiday toys than we've had in years.
And we're still just as irresponsible as we were before, maybe more so, because we don't have as much experience with these things as we once did.
The people who care about our safety — like firefighters, emergency medical service responders and emergency room doctors — all dread this time of year, and for good reason.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, over 11,000 people were injured by consumer fireworks in 2013. (That's before the New York law took effect.)
More than half of fireworks injuries were to extremities — hand or finger (36 percent), leg (14 percent), and arm (5 percent). Most of the remaining injuries were to parts of the head (38 percent), including the eye (16 percent of total).
Those bright fun sparklers we run around with can reach a stunning 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit, more than twice the temperature of the broiler in your oven and hot enough to melt aluminum.
Not surprisingly, sparklers alone account for about two out of five fireworks-related emergency room visits.
Kids are particularly susceptible.
Two out of five people injured by fireworks are under the age of 15. The risk of fireworks injury is highest for the children under age 5, followed by children 10 to 14 years of age. Males accounted for 57 percent of the injuries overall.
And it's not just injuries, which can include second- and third-degree burns and lung injuries from inhaling high-temperature materials.
On Independence Day, according to the firefighters group, fireworks account for 40 percent of reported fires in the U.S., more than any other cause of fire.
Not impressed by statistics?
The fire in Amsterdam that destroyed three homes the other night was caused by a 10-year-old playing with fireworks. A fire that destroyed a Washington County home last year was started by someone carelessly disposing of burned-out, but still very hot, firework in a garage garbage can.
Football fans remember Jason Pierre-Paul, the great Giants pass rusher, who last Fourth of July blew off all or parts of three fingers while running around throwing lit fireworks. He didn't realize the ones he had in his hand were the kind that could blow up.
If you want to have a safe and happy July 4th weekend, please educate yourself about the dangers of fireworks and related sparklers.
Learn their capabilities. Learn how to properly dispose of them. Keep them away from small children. There are lots of websites that provide safety tips. Click on a few of them and take note of what they recommend.
We want you to celebrate America's birthday at the pool or in the backyard or at an Independence Day festival.
Not in the hospital.