NJ wrong to consider lifting ban on some fireworks
Guys like to see destruction. I get it. We like explosives. The same gene that draws us to Fast and Furious movies, explosions in action films, and watching planned implosions of buildings makes us long to witness the power of blowing things up. I understand there is a primal rush. So many will get mad when I say State Sen. Nicholas Scutari's bill to lift the ban on certain lesser fireworks is misguided.
The big guns will still be banned under his legislation. Exploding and aerial fireworks would remain illegal. But the sale of smoke devices, snakes and glow worms, sparklers and other 'lesser' fireworks would be allowed for purchase, possession, and use by those aged 16 and older. Scutari told our newsroom, “Lots and lots of people buy stuff in Pennsylvania and bring it over anyway — might as well let our economy have a little bit of a jump."
Most will disagree with me, but it's a dumb move. Here's why.
Sparklers are far more dangerous than people realize. At the end of one summer when my children came back from summer visitation in Florida, they both had blistered burns all over their hands. They were 5 and 7 at the time. It was because they were allowed to play with sparklers, and my son got burned. Despite this, the following day my daughter was allowed to play with them, and she received her burns. Not the end of the world.
But it did make me look up some stats after their pediatrician told them to never handle sparklers again. He told them this sad story of one patient of his whose shoe was set fire by a sparkler and it so badly burned his foot that he was left disfigured.
One in five fireworks accidents in the U.S. are caused by sparklers. In a one month period in 2014, from June 20th to July 20th, sparklers accounted for 19% of 7,000 accidents bad enough to be treated in hospital emergency rooms. That's 1,330. For children under five years old sparklers account for 61% of all fireworks injuries. Sparklers can burn anywhere from 1,800 to 3,000 degrees, which is hot enough to melt some metals. Would you hand your kid an acetylene torch? Half of all eye injuries to children under five years old are from sparklers. Dr. Donald Cinotti was quoted in an article on this legislation by Dino Flammia as saying, "Sparklers can give you severe corneal burns, burns on the front surface of your eye." He says the mildest of fireworks can cause damage that effects a person's eyesight for life. Even poppers if you get too close.
Of course there's the argument that Scutari's legislation only makes these things legal starting at 16, so what am I concerned about? Because we all know damn well that once you're 16 you're not going to care about sparklers. It's the little kids who will end up holding those, and the older people will still want the illegal big boy explosives. Do we get these anyway by going into Pennsylvania? Yes, sure. But why make it any easier, even for these so-called 'lesser' fireworks that have hurt so many little kids?
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