Daily Herald opinion: Stay safe this Fourth of July

Once again, it is that time of the year when the sound of pyrotechnics resounds through normally quiet suburban neighborhoods.

With July 4 just days away, some folks are coming out after dark to set off firecrackers, bottle rockets, mortars, and other illegal fireworks.

We understand why people get excited around the Fourth of July. After all, the holiday is a celebration of the freedoms we all enjoy as citizens in the greatest democracy in the world.

But creating your own fireworks display can be dangerous and, when done to excess, disruptive to neighborhoods and families.

In a statement released by Loyola Medicine, Dr. Shannon Lovett said emergency rooms and burn centers see a significant increase in patients with fireworks-related injuries in the month leading up to July 4.

“The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to watch a public display as the fireworks there are handled with very strict safety protocols,” said Lovett, interim chair of emergency medicine at Loyola Medicine.

Meanwhile, experts say loud noises, including thunderstorms and fireworks, can cause stress to both dogs and cats, although dogs are more susceptible.

Fireworks also can be triggering for people dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder.

In response to complaints about illegal fireworks, Elgin police have been doing annual education and enforcement efforts.

Our Rick West reported that a special fireworks detail has been working since June 14 to respond to calls from residents.

The city also increased fines for repeat offenders last year and is providing free yard signs with messages encouraging people to respect their neighbors, especially veterans and pets.

We applaud Elgin and other police departments for trying to keep people safe during the holiday.

Other suburban cities and villages deserve praise for doing massive fireworks shows that far exceed what anyone can do with a do-it-yourself display.

So leave the fireworks to the professionals. Don't drive if you drink. And have a safe Fourth of July.

If you do decide to handle fireworks, doctors at Loyola Medicine say there are safety precautions you can take to help reduce or prevent injuries. Here are their tips for:

• Do not let children handle or ignite fireworks.

• Never use fireworks while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

• Wear heat-safe gloves and goggles when lighting fireworks. Light one at a time and move back quickly. Soak any nonfunctioning or used fireworks or sparklers in a bucket of water after use.

• Have access to a hose, a bucket of water or a fire extinguisher in case of a fire, mishap or injury.

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