FIREWORKS: NEW LAW HELPS COMMUNITIES KEEP THEM SAFE, REASONABLE

From the time we are young, fireworks captivate many of us. These kaleidoscopes in the night sky become a 4th of July ritual we enjoy year after year.

But fireworks are not fun if they scare us in the middle of the night, interrupt a family dinner conversation or create liter and debris. The availability, variety and ease of purchasing fireworks have made them more than just a once-a-year diversion for many. As a result, they can become a nuisance instead of a celebration.

In fact, one Senator I know had a senior citizen hand him a bag full of fireworks-related trash she had picked up in her neighborhood. “What are you going to do about this?” she asked.

That’s why I was willing to support Senate Enrolled Act 9, which allows your city or town to set their own limits on use of fireworks. With the 4th of July on its way, I thought it would be appropriate to review what this new law says.

SEA 9 took effect on May 8, the day Gov. Mitch Daniels signed the bill into law. It gives counties, cities and towns the option to set their own rules where fireworks are concerned most of the year. The state has taken control of the time period five days before and five days after July 4 as well as on New Year’s Eve. Everyone must abide by these guidelines.

 

That part of the law allows fireworks to be set off:

•between the hours of 5 p.m. and two hours after sunset on June 29-30, July 1-3, July 5-9

•between 10 a.m. and midnight on July 4; and

•between 10 a.m. Dec. 31 and 1 a.m. Jan. 1.

 

I think this new law strikes a good balance between allowing reasonable celebrations to occur and protecting residents from year-round use of these explosive marvels. This approach is much better than an old law that asked for Hoosiers to sign an affidavit pledging fireworks purchased in Indiana would only be used out-of-state. That approach was unrealistic as a law.

Watch The Waynedale News for any other local developments by city or county authorities concerning use of fireworks any other time of year.

Now that we’ve talked about the use of fireworks, perhaps we should also mention the need for fireworks safety. If you use fireworks during the appropriate times listed above, please be careful. Last year, the Indiana Department of Health recorded 251 cases of fireworks-related injuries. More than half of those involved children.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported four deaths due to fireworks injuries in 2003, with 9,300 treated in emergency rooms. As was the case in the state statistics, about half of the injuries involve children 14 and younger.

Have you ever wondered what our founding fathers would say if they could attend a 4th of July fireworks celebration? I think they would be amazed and thankful. I’d like to think they would approve of the legislation recently originated and passed in the Senate. Fireworks should be used to celebrate a great milestone in our nation’s history. Let’s make sure the “rocket’s red glare” is legal, safe and appropriate as we prepare to celebrate another birthday for the United States of America.

The Waynedale News Staff

Sen. Dennis Kruse

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