As it was reported July 4 in PennLive, Central Pennsylvanians have the option of selecting any number of fun activities across the region over the holiday weekend ranging from local fairs to a Civil War battle reenactment in Gettysburg and including community fireworks displays. Many families spend their Independence Day enjoying picnic food cooked on the grill, taking a cool dip in the local pool and proudly hang their flags in honor of the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness that all United States citizens are granted at birth. One American tradition that is celebrated every July 4 in almost every city and town is a fireworks display with some families lighting sparklers for their children to swirl and smile with delight with friends in their backyards. Others trek to a designated community site or go to an amusement park to watch fireworks launched on a more grand scale with all the pomp and circumstance. Along with the typical cautions to use sunscreen when going outside in the sun and applying bug spray before going into the woods for a hike, there is the reminder to use common sense and to follow safety recommendations when using any fireworks.
According to a report by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, they estimated that 8,700 consumers were treated in an emergency room for firework-related injuries with 60% of all these injuries occurring within a 30-day period of July 4. Although Pennsylvania state law prohibits people from launching fireworks without a permit from the municipality where the display will occur, there are no policies about the enforcement of safety regulations. The Pennsylvania State Police recommends that people exercise safety precautions by reading and following the directions when using novelty items such as sparklers such as having adult supervision, using the fireworks in an open area outdoors, lighting the items one at a time, and disposing of them in bucket of water prior to disposal. Certain fireworks such as M-80s, M-100s, silver salutes, and cherry bombs are illegal and may be confiscated by any law enforcement officer who has the discretion to arrest the users. An article in CNN lists a number of tips people can follow so that they can enjoy their novelty fireworks at home without spending their July 4 in the emergency room or worse.
While Independence Day is meant to be a holiday to celebrate the nation's freedoms and liberties, laws prohibiting illegal fireworks and outlining the sale and use of fireworks are not designed to limit anyone's rights. Rather they were put in place to protect people from one another and themselves. Even the founding fathers knew that some laws are a necessary evil so that one person's rights and freedoms do not infringe on the rights of their neighbor to enjoy a happy safe fun-filled holiday without having the added worry about a rogue firework bursting through an open window or blasting off a finger or two. With that, it is time to pull out the hot dogs and throw some burgers on the grill while the sun still shines. When the sun goes down, grab a few lawn chairs and sit outside to watch the sky light up in various shades of bright colors as the boom-booms remind Americans that we are the land of the free and home of the brave.