Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s… a ball of fire!

It’s that time of year again. The time when we all gather outside to celebrate the independence of our country from our oppressive ex-landlords, the British. And what better way to celebrate the tenacity, the grit, and perseverance of our great country and citizenry than by eating meat tubes of questionable content (aka hotdogs) and blowing things up?

That’s right. We Americans take are celebrating seriously, and when we want to show those old Redcoats who they’re messing with, nothing says “fear my wrath, you Imperialist!” like a brilliant display of pink, purple, and gold sparklers.  Throw in the earthshaking report from a miniscule bottle rocket after it blazes across the sky, and the drunken melody of Star-Spangled Banner sung by a quartet of drunken revelers, and you’ve got yourself some real Shock and Awe, baby.

All kidding aside, the Fourth of July is a wonderful time and is a great cause for celebration. But it is also a time to practice a little restraint and caution as well. It’s easy to predict that on a day in which a general celebratory nature, an appreciation of alcoholic beverages, and an affinity for things that explode into pretty, pretty sparkles mix, one would routinely find that a few unfortunate ‘issues’ that are less than celebratory in nature would arise. Some examples would be grass fires, car fires, house fires, first and second degree burns, temporary blindness, permanent blindness, and let’s not forget, temporary hair loss.  Nothing tells your friends that you got a little too close to that Roman candle than some missing bangs and eyebrows.

All these things can and routinely do happen in the course of a good old-fashioned Fourth of July celebration. This year, make an effort to ensure that you do not become one of the people who gets to experience one of these incidents, so that you can go home from your fireworks display with a bigger smile on your face then you came with, and possibly a few more pounds than you arrived with.

For specific safety tips that you can follow, please log onto www.NFPA.org and search for fireworks safety.

Have fun. Be safe. And enjoy your hotdogs.