Enjoy a “Safe and Sane” Fourth

Back at the turn of the last century (i.e., 1900), newspapers exhorted their readers to observe a “safe and sane” Fourth of July. That’s because in communities big and small all across America, the founding of our nation had become a popular excuse for roving groups of young men to engage in mayhem of all sorts, causing indiscriminate and serious damage to private and public property starting at 12:01 AM on the Fourth.

The widespread rowdiness caused so much destruction that a “safe and sane Fourth” became a rallying cry among both public officials and the public at large. Within a short time, a public safety campaign and public awareness all but eliminated the problem.

Although the practices of more than 100 years ago are long since gone, there are far too many Americans who still see our mid-summer holiday as a time to blow off some steam as if anything goes. An often-overlooked aspect of the Fourth, especially during a long holiday weekend, is that too many among us will engage in behavior that is risky not only to ourselves, but to our loved ones and others around us.

Fireworks are illegal for everybody in Massachusetts, but that has not stopped the proliferation of fireworks in recent years. According to the State Fire Marshal’s office, since 2018 illegal fireworks have caused 532 fires and explosions, about $1.5 million in property damage, and more than 200 serious injuries that required hospital treatment. Nationwide, every year there are more than 10,000 injuries attributable to fireworks that require emergency room visits, with many fireworks’ users losing fingers and suffering burns that will maim them for life.

Other risky behavior also spikes during the holiday weekend. It is estimated that there will be 600 deaths on our roads during the holiday, of which 40 percent will be attributable to drivers who are under the influence. This same admonition also applies to boat owners, who all-too-often think that being on the water while under the influence is safe and acceptable behavior.

Drowning is the leading cause of death of children ages 1-4 in this country. No parent should be impaired when they are near or on the water with their young children.

Although we no longer celebrate the Fourth as wantonly as our ancestors did, nonetheless we all must do our part to make sure that we observe the Fourth’s festivities safely and sanely, both for ourselves and our loved ones. If someone at your party is impaired — take their keys.

We wish all of our readers a happy, fun-filled, and safe & sane Fourth of July.

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