Celebrate freedom without encroaching on others' rights

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

They say my freedom to swing my arm ends where your nose begins.

The same could be said for my freedom to celebrate the Fourth of July.

That freedom ends where my neighbors' peace, quiet and safety begin.

Tuesday night's thunderstorm put an end to the pre-Fourth reverie, nature's fireworks making the best Nebraska-legal firecrackers sound puny by comparison.

For the record, it's legal to fire off firecrackers between 8 a.m. and 11 p.m. through July 5, with the curfew extended until midnight on the Fourth itself.

That only leaves nine hours of respite for pets and people who want some uninterupted sleep.

We never saw that many "sky lanterns" around the state until recent years, but local officials noted the free-flight flame-powered hot-air balloons are outlawed this year.

That's a good idea. It would take no imagination to know what would happen should one, still burning, alight in an unharvested wheatfield.

There will be no community fireworks display in McCook this year, but there will be in neighboring towns as well as a softball tournament this weekend. It's a good idea to take in one of those, where responsible adults are in charge of the fiery displays.

If it falls to you to be the fireworks technician in your family, McCook Fire and Rescue has some important tips:

* Always use fireworks outside and have a bucket of water and hose nearby in case of accidents;

* Steer clear of others -- fireworks have been known to backfire or shoot off in the wrong direction;

* Don't hold fireworks in your hand or have any part of your body over them while lighting;

* Wear some form of eye protection and avoid carrying fireworks in your pocket -- the friction could set them off;

* Point fireworks away from homes, and keep away from brush and leaves and flammable substances;

* Light one firework at a time (not in glass or metal containers), and never relight a dud;

* Don't allow kids to pick up pieces of fireworks after an event. Some may still be ignited and can explode at any time:

* Soak all fireworks in a bucket of water before throwing them in a trash can;

* Think about your pets. Animals have sensitive ears and can be extremely frightened or stressed during Fourth of July celebrations.

Officials add that it's illegal to throw fireworks from cars -- which is only one of the ways you can run afoul of the law with a vehicle on the Fourth of July.

To help more Nebraskans make it safely through the long holiday weekend, Nebraska State Patrol troopers and dispatchers will put in $14,255 worth of overtime, thanks to a grant from the Nebraska Office of Highway Safety.

Officers will be making vehicle checks and high visibility patrols with an emphasis on impaired driving. They urge drivers to wear their seat belts, obey the posted speed limits, pay extra attention in work zones and never drive impaired or distracted.

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