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SPOTLIGHT
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A safe holiday

Published on -7/3/2013, 8:37 AM

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Few holidays are more appropriate for Americans to celebrate than Independence Day. It was 237 years ago on July 4th when the Founding Fathers formally declared freedom from the yoke of British tyranny.

That calculated act of defiance set in motion the birth of a new country that eventually became the greatest nation in the world. We still become embroiled over the intent of the words in the U.S. Constitution, yet amendments have been relatively few and peace has prevailed within our borders for most of our history.

In modern times, we celebrate the Fourth with parades, vacations, gatherings around the grill, patriotic music and fireworks. Drought and dry conditions will limit that last tradition, at least in many communities throughout northwest Kansas, but fireworks are available.

Accordingly, the Office of the State Fire Marshal reminds all Kansans of the inherent dangers.

"These deceptively simple objects explode, throw hot sparks through the air, and can often reach temperatures hotter than 1,200 degrees," said State Fire Marshal Doug Jorgensen.

In 2012, 197 fireworks-related injuries were reported in the state. Ninety-three of those were suffered by children. Additionally, many structures, vehicles and other areas burn when proper precautions are not taken.

At least a few commonsense suggestions are offered by the OSFM that promote safety yet allow fun:

* Always read and follow label instructions.

* Always purchase high quality fireworks from a reliable, legitimate source.

* Never give fireworks to small children.

* Never point or throw fireworks at a person, building, or animal.

* Have a source of water handy, in case of fire.

* Never attempt to re-light malfunctioning fireworks.

"While shooting fireworks can be a fun way to celebrate Independence Day, it's not so fun if you, a family member or a friend are in the Emergency Room or if a fire truck has to rush to your house to put out a fire," Jorgensen said.

We hope your Independence Day celebration is safe and enjoyable. Happy birthday, America.

Editorial by Patrick Lowry

plowry@dailynews.net

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