Make this a safe Fourth

Safety is a big issue around the holidays, especially the Fourth of July.

We believe this summertime holiday is associated with two things – fireworks and travel.

Our best advice? Leave fireworks to the professionals. And as always, stay aware behind the wheel.

Thousands of people are taken to the emergency room every year for treatment of fireworks-related injuries. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than two-thirds of all fireworks-related injuries every year occur between June 16 and July 16. Young people under 20 account for about one-half of all injuries.

Most of the fireworks injuries were to the hand, eyes, head and ears, and more than half of the injuries were burns. And the Ohio Academy of Family Physicians tell us sparklers, although appearing innocent, can reach 2,500 Fahrenheit, or higher. That’s scary to think about, and should send a message to all parents who believe it’s OK, safety-wise, for their young children to run and play with sparklers.

Travelwise, 40.8 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more during the Independence day holiday – 84 percent of those travelers plan to drive a vehicle, that according to AAA.

Law enforcement will be heavy on all our roadways – for our safety. Last year, the Ohio State Highway Patrol arrested 263 motorists for driving while impaired from July 3-4. And in that 48-hour period, impaired driving was responsible for 87 crashes in the Buckeye State.

There are federal and varying state laws concerning fireworks. Be aware of what you are permitted to do, and don’t be shocked if setting off a simple firework could get you in trouble with the law. Some offenders in both Ohio and West Virginia could receive a hefty fine and be sentenced to six months in jail.

So this year, instead of setting off illegal fireworks in a backyard, we urge neighbors to put safety first and opt for a professional display. Chester’s annual show hits the sky above the Ohio River around 10 tonight.

By leaving the fireworks display to the professionals, no one’s health or life will be put in harm’s way.

Don’t let the Fourth of July turn into a tragic event. Be safe.