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Editorials represent the institutional view of the newspaper. They are written and edited by the editorial staff, which operates separately from the news department. Editorial writers are not involved in newsroom operations.

Editorial: Keep safety first on the Fourth

Fireworks

Be careful if you’re driving or boating this holiday, and especially if you’re using fireworks, which can damage property and injure or kill people and pets. File/Hadley Chittum/Staff

A festive long weekend. Crowded roads. Heat and humidity. Swarms of recreational boaters. Fireworks. People prepared to party after a passing pandemic. What could possibly go wrong?

Actually, we don’t know anyone who has crunched the numbers of all types of accidents to determine which holiday is our most dangerous, but it certainly wouldn’t surprise us if such an analysis pointed to the one coming up this weekend.

So as we try to have a blast this Fourth of July, let’s remember to be careful.

Of course, many important safety tips apply year round: Don’t drive and drive — whether it’s a motor vehicle or a boat. Be mindful of the weather. Remain patient, expect traffic to slow unexpectedly, and don’t follow too closely. Autoinsurance.org rates Independence Day as the most dangerous holiday to drive; other studies also rank it high but just behind Memorial and Labor days.

The American Boating Association warns that the Fourth of July holiday is the busiest of the too-often deadliest time in the boating season. Charleston, Lexington and Horry counties have the most boats of all South Carolina counties, according to the most recent Department of Natural Resources’ figures from 2018. They also lead the state in boating accidents and fatalities.

Meanwhile, the Fourth of July also presents the special added hazard of fireworks, which can be a lot of fun, but which also have the potential to go horribly wrong. Most of us have read news stories of instances when they have.

“Many choose to watch the ‘rockets’ red glare’ by using consumer fireworks or attending a professional fireworks display,” State Fire Marshal Jonathan Jones cautions. “We don’t want a time of celebration to turn into a time of tragedy. Fireworks can be enjoyed safely. Have fun, but adhere to safety precautions.”

Here’s what Mr. Jones wants us to keep in mind about fireworks: Observe city and county ordinances; never use them indoors, or next to homes or dry grass and trees; always have an adult present when firing them off; follow the directions; ensure people and pets are out of range; put used fireworks in a bucket of water; never give fireworks to small children, carry them in your pocket or point or throw them at people or animals.

All of this really is just commonsense and shouldn’t need repeating, but reminders don’t hurt. Like prodding people to prepare for hurricanes and tropical storms each year as the weather warms up. This Independence Day, we should savor our freedom to make choices. We should also try to make good ones.

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