Make this a safe, happy birthday celebration

Americans literally get a bang from the holiday we’re celebrating today.

Even though it is illegal to detonate them in Ohio, fireworks will be booming and banging throughout the day and night.

If all the noise annoys you, blame it on our second president, John Adams. It was Adams who suggested that fireworks be used to celebrate the nation’s birthday. Writing to his wife about the Fourth of July, shortly after having signed the Declaration of Independence, Adams said, “I believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be celebrated by pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations (fireworks) from one end of this continent to the other…”

And thus, the idea of celebrating the July Fourth holiday with fireworks was born and fireworks remain a holiday staple today.

East Palestine, Columbiana and the Rogers Sale will put their illuminations off tonight. In neighboring communities, Toronto will light up the skies Saturday and Chester, W.Va. will set fireworks off tonight.

Ohio’s strange law allows fireworks to be sold in our state, but you must agree to take them out of Ohio to discharge them. The law spells out stiff penalties for the illegal possession or discharge of fireworks. It’s a first-degree misdemeanor for non-licensed persons to discharge fireworks within the state, to falsify an application when purchasing fireworks, or to keep them here for more than 48 hours without taking them out-of-state. First-time offenders are subject to up to a $1,000 fine and six months imprisonment.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports there were eight deaths in 2013 caused by head and chest trauma, or house fires that resulted from mishandled fireworks. An estimated 11,400 injuries were reported during 2013, that’s a 31 percent increase compared to 8,700 injuries reported the year before.

So keep this in mind and detonate personal fireworks safely if you’re one of the thousands who will opt to ignore the law and host a private fireworks display.

And, if you’re planning to drink during this holiday period, be sure you don’t get behind the wheel.

The Fourth of July is traditionally a dangerous holiday period on Ohio roads, particularly for impaired driving.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol will be out in full force cracking down on impaired drivers the entire Fourth of July weekend, which began Thursday and ends Sunday.

The Patrol made more than 29,000 traffic contacts during the July 4th holiday period in 2013, an increase of 13 percent over the previous year. In addition, 4 people lost their lives over the two-day reporting period which began Wednesday, July 3 at Midnight through Thursday, July 4 at 11:59 p.m. Of the fatal crashes, one crash was known to be alcohol-related.

Last year the Patrol made 282 arrests for impaired driving, an increase of 7 percent over 2012. In addition, troopers issued 1,745 citations for aggressive driving, an increase of 29 percent.

Regardless of how you choose to celebrate our nation’s 238th birthday, make it a safe and happy one.