Throughout the Mahoning Valley, Independence Day celebrations have already begun. So may hospital admissions of people injured by fireworks.
Communities and organizations throughout the country will provide professional fireworks shows for the Fourth of July. Beautiful, impressive pyrotechnics can be seen - and heard - by anyone in Trumbull and Mahoning counties.
Yet thousands of people will buy their own fireworks, ranging from legal sparklers to large, illegal firecrackers and rockets. Because explosives are being handled by people who are not accustomed to doing so - and who sometimes take risks to show off or because they are intoxicated - it is probable accidents will occur in our area. We hope and pray none result in serious injuries.
Each year, many Americans are hurt badly - and a few are killed - by fireworks. About 8,800 people a year are treated in hospital emergency rooms for injuries caused by fireworks. That works out to an average of about one and a half injuries each at Trumbull Memorial, St. Joseph, St. Elizabeth and Northside hospitals.
If the past is a guide, more than 700 of those injuries will be serious enough to require at least overnight treatment in hospitals.
There are no safe fireworks, though a few types, such as sparklers, are legal. Of an average year's injuries, more than 1,000 are burns from sparklers.
Even those who sell illegal pyrotechnics warn they should be used only by adults. Yet many children are among those requiring hospital treatment for injuries. Thirty-nine percent of those hurt in fireworks accidents in 2009 were younger than 15.
Beginning to get the idea? Leave the fireworks to professionals this Fourth of July holiday. Please, don't risk hurting yourself or your loved ones.