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Fourth of July Hazards

One might think emphasis on a "safe" celebration of Independence Day is a recent development. In the 1990s some Nebraska communities limit or ban fireworks, except for public displays. The authorities' arguments against fireworks have changed very little over the years, judging from a state fire commissioner's letter to Nebraska newspapers in 1912:

"To the Fathers and Mothers and Citizens of the State of Nebraska: We are soon to celebrate the anniversary of the birth of this nation. Old and young alike recognize the importance of this occasion and are all filled with loyalty and enthusiasm. . . .

"Inventive genius is furnishing the toy pistol, fire cracker, roman candle, sky rocket, and other explosive means of celebrating the occasion, and every anniversary of the nation's birth is blotted either with the death or injury of hundreds of children and a lesser number of grown people from these death dealing manufactured implements. . . . It is the duty of every father and mother as well as every other citizen to warn the children and uninformed of the dangers attending these explosives so that the number of killed and injured will be reduced to such an extent that the anniversary of the nation's birth will not be the anniversary of the death or permanent injury of the boys and girls and citizens . . . who purchase and discharge these deadly explosives. . . .

"Let's have a sane fourth of July this year! Let's eat ice cream, and other good things, drink lemonade, soda water, and pop, make a loud noise with our mouth by shouting 'Hurrah.' This will not cause lockjaw or tetanus, and if we get sick from doing it a little 'Pain Killer' will cure us and we will not have to send for the coroner."

(June 1997)



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