Don’t lose an eye this fourth of July

Every summer people of all ages from all walks of life, fire up the barbeque, load a cooler with ice and usually head over to an Indian reservation to score enough fire power to put the muskets of the founding fathers to shame. The great American holiday is not complete without the sounds of sirens in the air, the high and wailing song of someone being rushed to the hospital with a stump instead of a hand, or a face full of shrapnel.

Instead of taking the route of “survival of the fittest” and taking the fun out of pyromania for the rest of us, myself included, it is time to take a “what would George Carlin do?” approach. Stand up comedians have offered many hypothetical cures for our social ills and short comings, and I think it is safe to assume he would have offered something to the effect of an antidote.

First, he would have said, we have got to tamper-proof fireworks, put a little triggering device in them so if you try to take them apart and make your own, BAM, hospital trip. Then, we get rid of the old warnings on the boxes; people don’t really read any more anyway; we need pictures. Every time one of these poor fools ends up in the hospital for triggering the tamper safe mechanism, we snap a picture, send it to the company and have them put it right on the side of the box with big letters that say “Do you want to be naturally selected? Didn’t think so.”

Maybe what we need is a pyrotechnic answer to the “must be at least this tall to ride” signs you see at fair. It will say, “You must have at least eight fingers to purchase fireworks.” Any less and they turn you away.

Several years ago, I made a day trip with a friend of mine out to Marysville to load up on fireworks so we could add our own annotations to the Lake Washington display. We had enough Roman candles to make Caesar shake in his boots, so we started early. My friend fired one into the water where it hit a wave, made a 180 degree turn, hit the lapel of my bathrobe and exploded. The plastic casing barely grazed my nose, but I got lucky. What is there to stop tomfoolery like this? There was no warning on the box that said, “Don’t fire into water.”

The 4th, like any American holiday, usually turns into a slosh fest, and there are few things more dangerous than alcohol and explosives. The people designated to watch over kids-their parents-are too busy throwing more brats on the BBQ and more Budweiser down their gullets to pay attention to a kid grinding up black cats with a mortar and pestle and pouring the resulting powder into a film canister with a fuse stuck in the lid.

Responsibility is the key: Parents keep an eye on your kids; and kids, keep the fireworks out of your eyes.

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