Jared Felkins: Some sage advice from a green thumb at fireworks

“My early childhood memories center around this typical American country store and life in a small American town, including Fourth of July celebrations marked by fireworks and patriotic music played from a pavilion bandstand.” — Frederick Reines, American physicist
Jun 28, 2014

Fireworks are not safe, and unless you possess about 156 different explosives licenses, no one should put fire to fuse. 

Of course, this is not my mindset when it comes to America’s Independence Day pastime. But my history with fireworks and several recent press releases have me rethinking my safety precautions come Friday. 

For instance, one press release said sparklers burn at temperatures hot enough to melt gold. I’m going to keep that in mind in case my three children decide to take up alchemy while waving those fusion sticks around. 

Another release said fireworks and alcohol don’t mix and to have a designated shooter. It’s not known whether this tip is true because people are less careful or more combustible while drinking. 

In all seriousness, many of the experts do not recommend throwing lit fireworks. After a number of bottle rocket fights and my fair share of throwing firecrackers at stuff, I can truly say I’ve been lucky. At least I’m fortunate enough to be typing this column with a certain degree of ease. 

There was one time, however, when fireworks got the best of me. Growing up, my cousins would come over for the family Fourth of July celebration. It consisted of steaks on the grill, watermelon and a fireworks show put on by my cousin, Jonathan, and me, 

One year, Uncle Alvin took us to town to get some fireworks. We loaded up on several types of crowd-pleasing favorites. What was interesting about that year was that with every purchase, there were free firecrackers. 

I’m not sure if the fireworks guy just ordered too many of the little pop-makers, but we ended up with handful upon handful of firecrackers. Since we went after the fireworks about 2 p.m., there were plenty of daylight hours for Jonathan and I to get in some firework practice before the big show at dusk. 

We each grabbed a handful of firecrackers and headed off to blow stuff up. 

It wasn’t long before we were throwing them. It didn’t take long for an incident to happen. 

I had a long windup and a short fuse that resulted in a firecracker going off in my hand. That thumb throbbed with pain, and it turned green. 

Of course, to let any of the grownups know would have meant immediate separation from us and the fireworks fun. Needless to say, my hands stayed in the pockets of my single-striped Izod shorts for the rest of the day. 

Eventually the pain went away, but I think my thumb stayed green for about a week. 

So, follow the rules when it comes to the fireworks and have fun. Take it from a green thumb at fireworks.

Jared Felkins is The Democrat’s director of content. Email him at jfelkins@lebanondemocrat.com or follow him on Twitter @paperboyfelkins. 

Log in or sign up to post comments.