By Melanie Speicher -

SIDNEY — On July 3, 1776, one of America’s founding fathers, John Adams, wrote a letter to his wife, Abigail. In it, he describes how Americas should celebrate the independence and founding of the United States.

“I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more,” wrote Adams.

And that’s exactly what Americans have done every year since on July 4.

“I think he’d be pleased with today’s celebrations,” said Shelby County Sheriff John Lenhart during his weekly interview. “July 4 is a time to spend with family and friends.”

And while it’s a time to celebrate, Lenhart cautions residents to be careful if they are using sparklers and fireworks this holiday season.

“Ten percent of all fireworks are set off by professions,” said Lenhart. “One billion dollars are spent every year on fireworks — that’s one pound for every man, woman and child in the U.S. The majority of fireworks are imported from China.”

Lenhart said of the injuries incurred while using fireworks, 70 percent of them are suffered by men. There were eight deaths last year related to fireworks and 13,000 hospital visits.

Most injuries, he said, happen when a person gets in the flight path of the fireworks, the firework trips over and the person tries to put it back upright or if the firework blows out, the person tries to relight it and it explodes.

The majority of injuries are to the hands, head and eyes, said Lenhart. The majority of injuries comes from Roman candles, bottle rockets, firecrackers and sparklers.

“Fourteen percent of the injuries are from sparklers, which heat to temperatures of 2,000-plus degrees. The injuries are usually to children, who are given a sparkler to have a good time.”

Lenhart said laws in Ohio are changing and a person buying fireworks no longer has to sign an agreement stating they will be taking fireworks out of the state of Ohio within 48 hours.

“The law will officially change in 2020,”said Lenhart. “So this year, if you’re setting off fireworks, expect a police chief (or officer) to come knocking on your door.”

Local firework displays are planned in New Knoxville on June 30 at 9:30 p.m.; Sidney on July 4 at 10 p.m.; Piqua on July 4 at 10 p.m.; Fort Loramie on July 5 at 10 p.m.; and Indian Lake on July 6.

And while the majority of people do like fireworks, Lenhart asks everyone to remember that some people — and most pets — don’t like the loud noises.

“For my veteran friends, fireworks can send them back to their war days and PTSD,” said Lenhart.

Lenhart offered some tips on what to avoid if you’re setting off fireworks.

• Never lean over the firework as you’re lighting it. Once it’s lit, move back away from it.

• If it doesn’t go off, soak it with water and throw it away.

• Never point a firework at another person.

• Never light more than one firecracker at a time.

• Never put them in your pockets.

• Never set them off in a glass container.

• Parents or guardians should always supervise children when they are around fireworks. “I encourage them to not let the children use the fireworks (sparklers) at all,” said Lenhart.

• Only use the fireworks outside.

And if you’re injured while using fireworks? You should cool off the burn and put dry dressing on it,” he said. If the injury is bleeding, hold a cloth on the injury and apply pressure. And then go immediately to an emergency room for treatment.

By Melanie Speicher

The writer conducts a weekly interview to update readers with news from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, 555 Gearhart Road, Sidney.

The writer conducts a weekly interview to update readers with news from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, 555 Gearhart Road, Sidney.