Advocate Editorial Board opinion: Be safe while celebrating Independence Day

By the Advocate Editorial Board
July 3, 2014 at 2:03 a.m.

This weekend, America will be filled with people celebrating the signing of a document that started the transformation of 13 colonies into what is now one of the most powerful countries in the world. The Declaration of Independence announced to the British Empire and the world that the people of the colonies were fed up with a leadership that taxed them without proper representation and infringed on their individual rights.

That message still rings true today, and we honor that brave stand every year with celebrations. This year, the city of Victoria is planning its annual fireworks show with a little extra. The show is planned to be a bit longer than in previous years and will be synchronized to music. In addition, proceeds from beer and soft drink sales will benefit Victoria Adopt-A-Pet.

Looking at these plans, it is exciting to think about all the celebrations that will be going on across the Crossroads. But with celebrations come the inevitable dangers of partying too hard, especially when it comes to alcohol. If you plan to drink this Independence Day, please have a designated driver. We know alcohol is often part of celebrations, and that is OK. But please don't turn what should be a national celebration of our freedom into a tragic day for one or more families.

Alcohol is not the only thing associated with Independence Day. Many residents have bought fireworks, and we encourage residents to know how to be safe when using these exploding, burning objects. No fireworks are allowed inside Victoria city limits. Victoria residents who wish to set off their own fireworks can go to Saxet Lakes Park until 11 p.m. Friday. Firefighters will be on site. For those who live outside city limits, the Victoria County Fire Marshal's Office has a list of safety tips available on its website to help residents have a safe, fun Fourth of July using fireworks:

Buy your fireworks from a licensed fireworks stand, and always follow the directions on the label. Only light fireworks outside and light only one at a time and move back. If a firework doesn't go off or only partially explodes, do not attempt to relight it. Leave it alone for 15 to 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water.

Don't drink while lighting fireworks. Have a designated shooter who also wears eye protection. Only adults should light fireworks, and children under the age of 12 should not handle sparklers, which can burn at 2,000 degrees. Never point or throw a firework at another person and do not ignite fireworks in metal or glass containers.

Keep water handy in both a bucket and a hose. When you've finished, douse the spent fireworks in water before throwing them away. If you have any fireworks you wish to keep for later, store them in a cool, dry place.

If everyone follows these safety instructions, we should have a safe, enjoyable Fourth of July across the Crossroads. We wish everyone the best. Happy Independence Day.

This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.



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