Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy 4th of July

Fireworks are dangerous, loud and incredibly polluting. Every year there are tons of injuries and deaths associated with fireworks. Just generically peruzing the news this morning, I read that a 4 year old boy lit off a closet of fireworks in his home around 7 AM. I couldn't believe that, what a horrible thing to happen to someone so young. How did the kid know there were fireworks in the closet? How did he know to get and light matches to set off the fireworks?

Apparently, there were so many fireworks packed into this closet (I'm sure with many other fuel sources, too) that when the kid lit one, the entire closet blew up into a fireball. The boy was trapped in the closet and burned to death. There were a couple of adults in the house at the time of the fire, parents I think, or roommates of the parents. Everyone else got out okay, but the boy's father sustained several serious burns trying to get the boy out of the burning closet.

But anyway, I'm sitting outside on a nice cool 78 degree breezy evening, and the waterfront's grand firework finale is clearly audible. The amount of carcinogens and flaming toxic debris that a firework display sets into the air is incomprehensible; now imagine that happening all over the enitre country, north, south, east and west.

When I was a teenager and living in Florida, it was kind of a neighborhood tradition to go to the Safety Harbor Rec Center's firework display. It was the nicest in the immediate area, and year after year I was impressed by the caliber of colors, effects and sounds. It was put on annually by the Safety Harbor Fire Department and everyone from Safety Harbor and nearby towns BBQ'ed in the parking lot all day to prepare for the show at night.

One year the show was much more interesting then in years past. In the middle of the systematic launching of fireworks, there was a strange noise, then it seemed as if quite a few fireworks went off on the ground. The flash was so bright it seemed like a supernova, or a tear in the time-space continuum. After that, the show stalled, then the ambulance came roaring across the field to where the firework launchers were. It seemed pretty serious, and the next day we learned that guy's arm was blown off. Freaky.

Now the grand finale at the waterfront is over, and all the amateur drunk neighbors are launching off their explosive investments. Many people who live in Portland drive to Washington to get the really good fireworks. Lucky for them it's a 20 minute trip north on I-5. Washington fireworks are illegal here, but that doesn't stop at least one person per block from setting off 6 dozen between 10 PM and 12 AM.

Anyway it was nice to have the day off. I think I'm going to follow up on how many firework related injuries and deaths occurred this past 4th.

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