Let's have a happy, safe holiday

To the Editor:
As Fourth of July approaches, people are making plans for picnics, barbecues, baseball games, and firework displays.  An article recently appeared in "Advance for Nurses," a professional magazine for nurses, dealing with the injuries sustained by youngsters involved in handling and shooting off fireworks.  I am writing to the community to educate them, and, hopefully, prevent children and adults the agony of a serious burn, or death.
Parents do not routinely hand their children matches or lighters to play with, yet, they will provide them with sparklers in celebration activities.  These are not 'harmless" fireworks, but very dangerous "toys" that burn between 1,800 and 2,000 degrees F.  Children's hair and clothing can be ignited, resulting in serious burns.
The article goes on to state that "40 percent of those injured by fireworks are children 14 years old and younger."  Parental supervision does in no way assume prevention of injury.  "In one study of 316 fire-works injuries, more than half of the accidents occurred while an adult was present." Remarkably, in many states, the fireworks-related injuries are caused by the class "C" type.  These are the legal ones, folks.  Take note - legality does not necessarily endorse safety.  They are not legal in New Jersey.

Bystanders are just as at risk.  One study in Alabama of 185 fireworks-related eye injuries demonstrated that 80 percent of them were caused by bottle rockets; and over half (67 per-cent) of them were sustained by people who were on an average of 23 feet away.  That is an incredibly sad fact because those injuries could have been prevented.
No doubt, there are those out there, teenagers and adults, who think this "won't happen to them." A boy I went to high school with thought the same thing.  He lost three fingers on his right hand in an accident involving fireworks.
Many of you have just graduated, with awards, honors and various tangible recognitions of your hard work and achievements.  It would be a pity to be unable to hold them in your hand because it was blown off in one foolish act.  I would hope you would not need such a graphic reminder before considering the cost of fireworks handling.
Let's leave the fireworks display to the professionals.  I'm sure the police, EMTS, firefighters, and emergency departments of each hospital would appreciate your cooperation, too.  After all, they're the ones left picking up the pieces, literally.  Have a safe and happy holiday.
JOYCE A.  MEYERS RN, BSN Bridgeton 06/28/01