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  1. #1

    Why are fireworks considered so taboo?

    Here in Los Angeles, there were less fireworks shows than ever before; during the 2000 new year's celebration, the city of Los Angeles opted to have no fireworks as part of the millennium celebration, instead the then-mayor and others decided to put an extremely lame fiber-optic light net over the Hollywood sign and consider that a reasonable public celebratory effort for one of the most famous cities on the planet. Personal fireworks are illegal in the city (though not in the county) beyond poppers -- which are fun in their own right but not a reasonable exchange for actual fireworks. But why?

    In the US in 2001, there were 9,500 injuries attributed to fireworks, either directly or indirectly related. That's a lot of injuries, but consider this:
    • in 1997, there were about 9,590 injuries attributed to automobile accidents every single day that year, a total of 3.5 million injuries;
    • same year, around 69,000 pedestrians were injured from traffic-related incidents;
    • in '98, over 2 million people called poison control centers in response to poisoning incidents;
    • nearly 600,000 people annually are treated in emergency departments for bicycle-related injuries.
    The average number of fireworks-related deaths between '95 and '99 were approximately 16 people a year.
    • in '97, there were around 42,000 people killed in auto accidents, 115 deaths per day;
    • same year, 5,220 pedestrians were killed in traffic-related incidents, that works out to around 14 per day;
    • in '98, 5,606 teenagers and 2,027 children were killed in car crashes;
    • same year, 38% of all traffic fatalities were alcohol-related;
    • again, same year, 758 people were killed from bicycle-related injuries;
    • in 2000, there were 160 children killed from choking, 10 times as many as the overall average (children and adult) fireworks-related deaths.
    * most of the above figures came from the CDC website.
    Certainly fireworks are dangerous, and so-called "safe & sane" fireworks that people can buy legally from stores account for more injuries than illegal fireworks, often because adults think the "safe & sane" label means it's ok to give children red-hot sparklers and other inappropriate-for-children fireworks.

    But my question is, why is our society so afraid and hyperreactive to fireworks when they account for less injuries than walking down the street, riding a bike, or accidental poisonings and far less deaths than cigarettes, alcohol, driving, and choking? Wouldn't it be better to simply properly-educate the public on safe fireworks use and crack down on irresponsible parents who give their kids fireworks than to simply prohibit the use of fireworks - especially when these kinds of prohibitions have been proven to be routinely ineffective and actually lead to increased use of illegal and more-dangerous substances?
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  2. #2
    Maybe they should just sell a license to buy fireworks. However I know even if things are illegal in the state you can still buy them legally. Like here in OK, pop bottle rockets are illegal to buy just anywhere, but if you bought them on land owned by Indians, then it's ok. You just can't shoot'em off legally..

    Dunno why people are so afraid of them, if more people bought them then they could get better quality. Maybe people just didn't feel like celebrating this year with the war and all. Crazy crazy crazy.
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  3. #3
    What's the deal ... you sad that you didn't get to blow anything up this year?
    Quote Originally Posted by JediTricks
    Here in Los Angeles, there were less fireworks shows than ever before; during the 2000 new year's celebration, the city of Los Angeles opted to have no fireworks as part of the millennium celebration
    The 2000 new years was something entirely unrelated to fireworks. Los Angeles in general ... and I'll include my neck of the woods, Long Beach ... did a feeble job of celebrating. Something to do with Y2K paranoia, fear of terrorism and being basically lame at celebrating anything important.
    Quote Originally Posted by JediTricks
    Personal fireworks are illegal in the city (though not in the county) ... But why?
    In my town they are legal. As a matter of fact my town looks like a war zone from sun down until about 10 PM. My town also has very strict building codes with regard to flammable roof tops. Not to mention, we're miles from any open dry brush or flammable hillsides.
    Quote Originally Posted by JediTricks
    In the US in 2001, there were 9,500 injuries attributed to fireworks, either directly or indirectly related. That's a lot of injuries, but consider this ...
    Can you really argue that because so few people are injured by fireworks that they're less dangerous than any other hazard? Perhaps the strict rules governing their use and probable abuse are what ends up preventing more injuries. Last night I listened to and watched quite a few drunks lighting off things that they'd gone and brought over illegally from Nevada. The neighbor kid's flying 2 liter bottle with an M80 taped to it's side managed to explode on my garage roof. If it had landed in my yard or near my son ... I could give you some more good reasons why most people don't deserve the unimportant privilege that comes with 4th of July fun. I'm amazed that I only heard the Fire Department pass by a half dozen times last night.
    Quote Originally Posted by JediTricks
    Certainly fireworks are dangerous, and so-called "safe & sane" fireworks that people can buy legally from stores account for more injuries than illegal fireworks, often because adults think the "safe & sane" label means it's OK to give children red-hot sparklers and other inappropriate-for-children fireworks.
    "Safe and Sane" applies to the potency as well as the design of most fireworks you can buy around here. We don't get bottle rockets because people tend to shoot them at each other. We don't get firecrackers because they tend to blow off little people's fingers. We don't get fireworks that are shaped like animals or little vehicles ... because children tend to think that they are toys. Basically, we don't get a lot of things because not everyone can be trusted to act responsibly. Education is important (it does happen anyway) but the best way to reduce the burden that the average tax payer will suffer when it comes to paying for things like fire, police and emergency ... is to simply decide that it isn't worth the hassle to allow fireworks.

    Now ... getting people to stop shooting their handguns in the air is a whole different matter.
    plasticfetish.net

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by plasticfetish
    Now ... getting people to stop shooting their handguns in the air is a whole different matter.
    Yea, I think it has to do with the fact that they are dangerous and associated with fun. Anytime those 2 mix, people who are against it(the ones that mainly see the dangerous side), try to ban it twice as hard because the other side(the ones who mainly see the fun side) that is fighting for it, fights even harder to keep it.
    No matter how I die, even if there is a suicide note; it was murder. Cheers!
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  5. #5
    My friends and I have been doing the fireworks thing on the 4th now for 12 years with no injuries. They are legal to buy but illegal to set off here. We're lucky enough to even have a fireworks plant just up the street that has a showroom open year round.

    My thought on this is that states should implement a fireworks safety program and license similar to that for hunting. You would sit through a day or 2 of safety seminars, take a test and if passed you can purchase your annual fireworks license. That license would permit the holder to purchase certain Class of fireworks and set them off according to rules established by the state.

    The reasons I think the license thing would be a better solution than just keeping them outlawed in most states is:

    1. Safety. Injuries take place due to ignorance or just plain stupidity. Proper education would probably get rid of most of those injuries. Hopefully better standards could be set for importation of foreign fireworks. I have to admit the most unstable fireworks I've experienced are the Chinese ones. It seems the long shipping times and storage degrade their stability more than the fresher domestic ones.

    2. Control Because they are legal to purchase it's nearly impossible to control their use. They're being set off in residental, commericial, state property. Establishing rules to were they can or cannot be used would lower certain risks. Heck, ,if I knew that I couldn't use them in my backyard due to it's proximity to nearby buildings but I could set them off at my buddies house I would head over in a heart beat. Also times could be set. I'm sick of hearing some neighbors setting off firecrackers at 2:00 am.

    3. Money States could raise money by charging a nominal fee for the class, initial and recurrent licenses. That money could be used for future safety education or other programs.


    No program would be fool proof but the hunting license is pretty successful. There is a hobby that is meant to kill and maim and there are less stories annually of hunting deaths than firework deaths. What do others think?
    "No one helped me so why should I help you?" - College professor circa 1999

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  6. #6
    Yeah, Canada is like South Park as far as fireworks, so I hear this one loud and clear...
    As a kid I had to settle for black snakes (NO JOKE), sparklers and the classic "burning schoolhouse"...... I lived up north, and the bonfires all around town were dozens of times cooler than the "pyrotechnics" we were allowed... I LOVE illegal fireworks, though, like ladyfingers and bottlerockets and stuff... none of the real "big bang" stuff... I would NEVER fire one at someone, or even anywhere someone MAY get involved, I am a responsible dude after all..... it's weird, but a lot of the "legal" ones are pretty darn dangerous... you can get 3 foor long rockets that blast flame out the back, fly to a height of 60 feet (if they're pointed the right way) and then blow up.... but a bottle rocket is too dangerous to be had?? MAN, it drives me nuts......

    I mean, I don't even need to say anything at a store to buy, say, a big jug of gasoline, or a power router say, which, if I'm not careful, will do SERIOUS damage...... but there's no way I could own and use a 50-pack of Black Cats??? MAN!!!!

    Yes, there should be some nice clear rules, like you said ExP, if I knew there was a place and time where it was condoned, I would go there... the last "firework" holiday, may 24, we went and lit a fairly unimpressive selection of stuff off in this huge brownfield near our house, there's not even grass growing there, no buildings around it or nothing.....

    It's too bad that it seems to be a case of a few thousand bad apples spoiling the whole crop.... it's sad that idiots need so much protection
    Something about him reminds me of my older brother, Rex.

  7. #7
    I like to rip off the sticks of the bottle rockets and watch them do unpredictable things. I did that once and and it flew accross a moving car across its windshield. We also like shooting Roman Candles at each other, well, mainly at STOP signs.
    No matter how I die, even if there is a suicide note; it was murder. Cheers!
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  8. #8
    My friends and I have learned many things of what not to do with fireworks over the years. Lighting anything that has a broken component (ie stick or fin) is a rule for destroying the firework (poor water on it). We've had too many fireworks chase and hit people thanks to stuff like that. Scruffziller, I was right there with you once doing pretty unsafe things with them but after a few close calls we learned our lesson. Sadly no one was around to tell us what was safe and unsafe at the time and you don't grow if you don't learn. As you said, you had a firework hit a cars windshield, what if it had hit the drivers window? What if that window was open? I had the same thing happen but as you experienced, we were lucky and it missed the open drivers window and bounced off the windshield edge. It was stupid and we learn a valuable lesson.

    Model rockets are amazingly powerfull and are legal. I did model rocketry for 5 years and thanks to the safety oriented industry I never had anything close to an accident even though there were several defective engines that exploded and rockets that flew out of control.

    I would love to see an ignition system for fireworks. Nothing makes me more nervous that kneeling down by a tube trying to light a wick a the shell. Give me an electronic firing mechanism any day.
    "No one helped me so why should I help you?" - College professor circa 1999

    By choosing not to decide you still have made a choice.

    I'm in love with the women of Univision.

  9. #9
    Heck, wherew I live for the whoile month of June, when you walk into Wal-Mart there are huge firework displays. They dont sell mortars, M-80's and blockbusters, but all the colorful stuff. I enjoy fireworks. I like to set them off and watch em. I dont think there is anything wrong with them. Everyonce and a while you get the average schmo who decides to hold them in his hand and let it go off to see if it will hurt them. That is what ruins it for alot of areas. cant understand why the city of L.A. wouldnt even put on a display run by the city especially for the 4th of July. Over here, they tore down an old bridge and celebrated with a huge fireworks display. I guess they like blowing stuff up here or something.
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  10. #10
    I HATE THEM. Got very very sensitive ears and hate the screeching sound of rockets. Also I'm very jumpy and hate to be shocked. Bangs don't impress me much. I'm also not terribly impressed by pyrotechnics. If you're gonna burn something damn well burn it good not all this fancy schmantzy crap. Just light a torch and set the thatch alight and let's all roast some 'taters. Drink some beer and singalong to whoever can remember the tune and the words of any song. Fireworks are crap. Last ime i went to a public display i was twelve and i stood there watching all the buffoons clapping and going "oooooh!" and "aaaaaaaah!" and i thought to myself what moprons they were for being so impressed with so little. I'd rather set a disused tower block alight and enjoy a real show. Or a car. Cars are fun to burn much more explosive. Fireworks are just so lame and predictable. Powerless. You can't beat a good old fashioned out of control inferno. Fires yes, fireworks no.

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