When I was kid there was nothing more intriguing to me than Black Cat firecrackers. I loved the smell of gunpowder and the power I felt when I lit one of those tiny sticks of dynamite.  The hint of danger that came along with them only added to the excitement.

When I was a freshman in college, there were some morons who thought it was funny to light bottle rockets and shoot them through the cracks at the bottom of dorm rooms in the middle of the night.  Nobody was hurt and the rooms didn't catch fire, but when I think back on what could have happened, it's chilling.

Fireworks are not toys.  They're explosive devices, and as such, can hurt you. According to a new report by  the Consumer Products Safety Commission and its National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, there were 11,000 fireworks-related injuries including four deaths last year.  7,600 of those injuries took place between June 18 and July 18.

The Bossier City Fire Department offers these safety tips on the city's web site:

  • Young children should never be given fireworks to handle alone. Responsible adult supervision is a must.
  • Always purchase fireworks from a reputable retail outlet.
  • Never shoot off fireworks indoors or other enclosed areas such as carports.
  • Read and follow all warnings and instructions.
  • Use a "punk" to ignite fireworks. Never use an open flame such as a cigarette lighter or match.
  • Never shoot, aim or throw fireworks at people or animals.
  • Keep a garden hose or bucket of water handy for emergencies. Never try to re-ignite fireworks that have malfunctioned. Douse them with water and wait 15 minutes before properly disposing.
  • Be aware of dry conditions. Never ignite fireworks on or near dry vegetation. Doing so could spark fires.
  • Only light fireworks on a smooth, flat surface away from buildings and flammable materials.

4th Of July fireworks may be fired in the Shreveport and Bossier City city limits through 10pm on July 5th.   Hour that are permissible for fireworks use are 8am-10pm in Shreveport and 10am-10pm in Bossier City.  If you are caught shooting off fireworks outside of authorized hours you may be fined and/or jailed.

Fireworks are fun and exciting, but they're dangerous, too; especially when the consumption of alcohol accompanies their use.  Celebrate our nation's independence, but do it safely so that you can be around to celebrate next year.