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Write-a-Thon, Day 3: Fireworks Safety, or: “Why Johnny Can’t Hitchhike”

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With Independence Day fast approaching, many Americans will be preparing to celebrate by attending municipal fireworks displays, and even more will be busy preparing for smaller displays in their backyards, gardens or one of the many deserted fields next to recently-closed businesses that are cheaper to operate on the Indian subcontinent. But it’s not all fun and games, of course: Independence Day is indeed a time for celebration, but it is also a time where people may acquire new nicknames such as “Thumbs McGee,’ “Lil’ Deafy” or “that one dead guy.” Clearly, both safety and fun must be considered when preparing your hastily-assembled array of potentially lethal pyrotechnics, but who has the time for all that hoity-toity book-learnin’ and such?

We are here to help! After years of research, the Claire De Lunacy Knowledge Analysis Board of Ordinance Management (or K.A.B.O.O.M) has prepared the following list of fireworks safety tips so that you, the reader, may emerge with both your proud American spirit and physical extremities intact this Independence Day weekend.

1) Obtain some fireworks. In many states (e.g. Ohio), so-called “real” fireworks are illegal, and therefore considered “contraband.” Luckily, it seems that every state where this situation occurs is surrounded on at least three sides by states where fireworks are not only legal, but constitute at least 50% of those states’ GDP (this is known as “States’ Rights,” as in “There are several states right next door that will sell me enough gunpowder to level Mt. McKinley.”). So hop in your car and head to Kentucky to visit “Aunt Bertha;” within four miles of the state line will be approximately 10,000 Fireworks Stores. If stopped by the authorities, express shock at the sudden appearance of three metric tons of fireworks in your vehicle; claim that scheming Hatfields must’ve put them in your trunk after you done shot that no-good cuss Luke when your two clans got to feudin’.

2)  Select the right fireworks for your display type. With so many types of fireworks available on the market today, it can be tempting to overbuy; however, since nobody wants their fireworks display to be a “dud,” it’s important to make sure you get, as the pros say, “the most bang for your buck.” The key is to follow one simple “Rule of Thumb:” limit your spending to a stack of bills as thick as your thumb (if you no longer have thumbs, consider letting someone else pick the fireworks this year. Also, maybe invest in one of those sweet Luke Skywalker mechanical hands. That thing was pretty cool, am I right? High four!).

3) Prepare your launch area. Yes, it can be tiresome to clear away the dry, brittle grass, kindling, flash paper and boxes of old, sweating dynamite from your launch area, but it is critical that you do so, as these items take up valuable space that could otherwise be filled with more fireworks. Do a quick sweep of the area: did you remember to isolate your “launch pad” from your home, or are you tempting fate with a baby pool full of ice water up on the roof? Is your audience at a safe viewing distance (i.e., Montana), or will this be the year that a Roman Candle finally carries Cousin Leonard to that big meth lab in the sky? Asking these questions now will save valuable time – time that can be used later for filling out forms for the insurance company or retrieving lost digits from the next county.

4) Choose the right time to set off your display. Now, it may seem obvious to you or me that fireworks are meant to be set off on Independence Day itself, but many folks also have a hoot and a holler setting them off any ole time! Nobody wants their display competing with the “big boys” from the City, so make sure you set off a random string of firecrackers or ten throughout the weeks preceding and following July 4th for maximum celebratainment! Is your third-shift-working, perpetually-exhausted neighbor with the twitchy eye and PTSD home and trying to rest? I sure hope not, ’cause it’s time for fireworks! Got a family with a newborn who’s finally started sleeping through the night? What better way to celebrate than with an economy-sized box of Black Cats? Do you live next to a freelance writer who is trying to untangle the threads of a particularly complicated Gordian knot of plot, and therefore requires a little consideration from you? Aww, don’t listen to that cranky bitch, set off a few thousand M-80s right outside her window while she sobs quietly! The possibilities, like the fun, are ENDLESS!

5) Get the whole clan involved. Sure, it might raise a few eyebrows when little Daisy Lou toddles over to light the “boom-boom” for daddy, but the home movies will be priceless, and also serve as material evidence if needed! And for the grand finale, make sure you let one of the older, more experienced folks handle the fuse lighting. After all, it isn’t as if Grandpa hasn’t lived a nice long life, and the doctor said a little cardio is good for him!

6) You just leave that cat alone, mister. I saw you looking at him, then the box of M-80s, then back at him, like some sort of two-camera setup in an 80s movie. You start blowin’ up cats, and you know what happens? That’s right, they come back to haunt you. I’ve read Pet Semetary, you know. And who wants a bunch of undead zombie cats cluttering up the launch yard? Damn fool.

7) With fireworks, as with Jell-o, there’s always room for more. Is there anything more rewarding than basking in the glow of a job well done? Take a moment after completing your display to regard with pride the cheery, smiling faces of your friends and family, knowing that those smiles are due to your unassailable pyrotechnic acumen!  And then pull out “Big Bertha,” light the fuse, and pray to whatever god you worship that you’ll make it to the bunker in time. Cherish these times – you’re making memories that, like the retinal burns, will stay with you forever!

And there you have it. We here at Claire De Lunacy K.A.B.O.O.M. hope you have enjoyed these safety tips, and wish you a happiness, health, and speedy healing this Independence Day! Until next time, this is Claire Jackson saying “You can’t spell “Freak Accidents & Prosthetic Claws” without F-I-R-E-W-O-R-K-S!”

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