Arresting Tales

Fireworks: a public service announcement (with extra video hijinks)

Fourth of July weekend is here, and that means two things: fireworks and stupidity.  Or, fireworks and booze, or some combination thereof.

We could see it coming a couple weeks ago, when police in Matteson found enough fireworks and chemicals "to level an entire city block".  Where were these explosives?  Inside a trailer home that housed a 5 year old child, that's where.

Wednesday night brought news of a south side man critically injured by fireworks.  It's never good when you read something like this:

"The man had put the firework in a tube in the ground, and when it didn't go off he peered inside to find out why..."

Doh.

In the interest of public safety, and because I'm well into my mid-summer sloth and don't feel like coming up with new material, I'm re-publishing my public service announcement from last year:

Fireworks: a public service announcement

Except for officially-sanctioned professional displays (like the July 3rd display at Taste of Chicago) fireworks are illegal to possess or fire off in Illinois.  They are not only illegal, they're unsafe...blah, blah, blah.

You heard me.  Blah, blah, blah

Every year at this time we get subjected to a barrage of news items and public safety press releases reminding us of the dangerous and illegal nature of fireworks.  We know already.

I have always been dumbfounded by people who call the police to complain about fireworks on the 3rd or 4th of July.  It's like calling the cops to complain about your neighbors making noise at their New Year's Eve party.  Deal with it.  And I've also been amazed by the dummies who choose to light up their patriotic displays in front yards, or on the street, in full view of the police car that happens to be cruising by.  Come on fellas, a little discretion please.

Getting back to the warnings.  I'll go out on a limb here and wager that, in most of the really damaging fireworks incidents, alcohol is involved.  And guess what?  As a group, raucous drunks are not the best at heeding advice from public health officials and law enforcement.

Still, I feel like I have to do my part this weekend, so I'm presenting this cautionary video on the dangers of fireworks:



Key phrase to remember: "after leaning over a professional grade firework." 

Bottom line? Backyard fireworks are not safe, but if you do decide to stage an illegal amateur fireworks display in your backyard, for God's sake, keep your mannequins and your melons at a safe distance.
_____________________

So you still want to see some fireworks, but the safety video I've just shown you has scared you off doing it yourself, and you don't feel like making it to one of the official events around Chicagoland?  One option would be to find an off-duty cop who is throwing a party--they usually have decent fireworks...or so I've heard.

There will be numerous back-alley fireworks displays all across the city this weekend, like this one in Logan Square:



Just be careful the displays don't turn into Elvis-style fireworks battles:



If you live in one of the more trailer park-intensive unincorporated areas in Will, Lake or McHenry county, you might see a display like this:



Or like this:



 Finally, you might see displays like these any place young men gather in groups:

Safety tip # 1: PUT THE  DAMN DOG ON A LEASH



Safety tip # 2: KEEP EXPLOSIVES AWAY FROM THE JOHNSON



Safety tip # 3: DO NOT LET ANYONE PIN YOUR LEGS OVER YOUR HEAD WHILE YOU HAVE A ROCKET STUCK IN YOUR BUNGHOLE



That concludes today's public service announcement.  I leave you with these thoughts:

  • Remember, there's a fine line between being the life of the party, and the reason the cops get called.
  • Any party that doesn't involve a 911 call, an emergency room visit or an insurance claim was a good party.

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4 Comments

Lauren Strec said:

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Maybe people should have to take an IQ test before purchasing fireworks? This entry is featured on today's "Hot on ChicagoNow:"
http://www.chicagonow.com/blogs/hot-on-chicagonow/2010/07/hot-on-chicagonow-july-2-2010.html

Joe the Cop said:

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Lauren, either that or find a way to attach a breathalyzer to an aerial mortar.

Thanks for judging this post hot-worthy!

CCWriter said:

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Of course I won't call you on July 3rd or 4th. That's part of the unwritten social contract. But I really hope you will enforce the law the rest of the year. This city is infested with punk barbarians who, if nobody tries to stop them, figure it's OK to set off explosions every single flippin' night the rest of the flippin' summer so a person can't even enjoy peace and quiet in their own home, but feel like they are living in a 3rd-world war zone. This becomes a quality of life indicator where it is important to draw the line, much like broken windows or squeegee men in NYC under Giuliani. So I hope you guys take this seriously effective Tuesday, and if they're doing it while you cruise by, please bust 'em!

John R. Schmidt said:

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Back in medieval Europe, the penalty for being a pickpocket was getting for business hand chopped off. The authorities did this in public, because it was supposed to be a deterrent. Of course, while the chopping ceremony was going on, a crowd would gather--and other pickpockets would be busy working the crowd!
Some people will do stupid things just because they think they're smarter than other people--and you can't convince them otherwise. But keep trying.
I'm just glad I survived all the crazy things I did when I was younger.
--JRS

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