Daily Herald Opinion: Leave the fireworks for the pros, and find ways to make sure your pets don't suffer
You likely put on a helmet and you darn sure require your children or grandkids to wear one when they ride their bikes.
You probably remind them to put on some knee and elbow pads for good measure when they get on the skateboard.
But do you take the same type of precautions when you're handling explosives?
The National Safety Council recommends that you never allow young kids to handle fireworks, that older kids and adults not use them while under the influence, that you set them off away from people, houses and stuff that's flammable, that you never point or throw them at someone and that you keep a bucket of water handy just in case.
And that's a general list of warnings, presumably to people in states that allow fireworks.
Have you ever attended a cul-de-sac fireworks display that didn't break all of those commandments?
Neither have we.
Besides, all of the fireworks that go whoosh or boom remain illegal in Illinois. That includes handheld fireworks, bottle rockets, firecrackers, torpedoes, skyrockets, roman candles, chasers, buzz bombs, helicopters, missiles and pinwheels.
Of all the states that abut Illinois, only Wisconsin has any real prohibitions on the stuff that will impress a crowd.
Here are some sobering statistics: According to an internet study conducted by Allegiant Fire Protection, the Midwest seems to have a real issue with fireworks injuries.
Wisconsin ranks third, Iowa fourth, Michigan fifth, Illinois 12th and Missouri 14th.
If you're not swayed by the threat of injury or damage to yourself, your kids, your roof, your backyard trampoline, your patio furniture or the wooded lot behind you, have you considered the mental health of your pets?
The American Veterinary Medical Association says 48.6 of Illinoisans own a dog and 21% own a cat.
Have you ever noticed that during thunderstorms, they'll whine, yawn, pant, pace, hide or chew or otherwise destroy things?
Those are all signs of serious stress in your pets.
Their hearing is so much stronger than ours, so they respond more profoundly than we do to loud noises.
To help them when it's noisy outside, you can snuggle with them, put a pressure vest on them, shut out outdoor noise, give them a cozy place with quiet music and a new toy to keep them comfortable.
So, unless you want to stay home and comfort your pets on this Independence Day weekend, enjoy a licensed, professionally done aerial show that is sure to make you say "Wow!"
That ill-advised homemade show could be a dud in more ways than one.