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Celebrate the Fourth safely

We’ve all done it. We’ve taken a bottle rocket, aimed it at something or someone we shouldn’t have and let it rip.

We’ve thrown firecrackers at the feet of friends, sending them scurrying across the yard or street.

But Wednesday, in addition to reminding citizens that the sale and use of fireworks is prohibited within the city limits, Suffolk officials offered up some statistics on just how dangerous fireworks can truly be.

According to statistics from the National Fire Protection Association, on a typical Fourth of July, there are more fires reported than any other day, and fireworks account for half of those fires.

In 2005 alone, fireworks caused an estimated 1,800 structure fires, 700 vehicle fires and caused $39 million in property damage.

In 2006, U.S. hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 9,200 people for fireworks related injuries.

In prohibiting the use and sale of fireworks, the city code states, “It shall be a violation of this Code for any person to store, to offer for sale, expose for sale, sell at retail, or use or explode any fireworks. Fireworks include, but are not limited to, firecrackers, skyrockets, torpedoes, sparklers, or any other fireworks, which explode, travel laterally, rise into the air, or fire projectiles into the air.”

City officials are not naive enough to think that not a single firecracker, bottle rocket or Roman candle will be fired during the approaching Fourth of July holiday weekend. But the city’s emergency departments should be commended for offering this information on just how dangerous fireworks can be.

Instead of setting off your own fireworks display, leave it to the professionals and enjoy the city’s show that will be part of the Suffolk Parks and Recreation Department’s annual “Stars and Stripes Spectacular” at Constant’s Wharf Park and Marina on Sunday, July 4. The events start at 5 p.m. with the show culminating in a fireworks display at 9 p.m.

Make sure this Fourth of July holiday is a safe and memorable holiday for all the right reasons. Enjoy it safely.