Independence Day History (and Homeschool Fire Safety)

July fourth is synonymous with gatherings of family and friends and displays of fireworks. To understand why, we must take a look back in history.

The day is a celebration of our country’s 1776 declaration of independence from the control of England. Many United States citizens were tired of their lack of participation in governmental decision-making (“No taxation without  representation!”), and they desired to be self-governed. Thomas Jefferson, along with Benjamin Franklin and John Adams, penned the Declaration, a statement against this outside control. It was happily approved and signed, marking the U.S. a free, independent country.

The idea of fireworks is credited to John Adams, who wrote his wife about his involvement in the Declaration and suggested that future annual celebrations of independence include, among other things, “illuminations.” Fireworks were a part of the importance and excitement of the event, and that has carried on for the past 241 years.

So, if John Adams, founding father and second president of the United States, said that fireworks should be used in celebrating our independence, that’s a pretty good reason to do it! But, to have fireworks, you need fire; and where there’s fire, homeschoolers need fire safety…especially in Pennsylvania, where it is an annual elementary requirement. With the 2017-2018 school year officially beginning on July 1, I thought a bit of fire safety would fit in fantastically during our Independence Day celebrations.

Here are nine fire safety rules to follow and teach your children before shoving a sparkler in their hands and letting them run wild.

1. Do not use fireworks without adult supervision. Young children should not light fireworks, and older children should be monitored.

2. Never use fireworks indoors, even if they seem harmless.

3. Never hold fireworks while lighting them (sparklers excluded). Always keep your face back and then move away quickly after ignition. Parents may opt to have their children to wear safety glasses or other eye protection while lighting fireworks.

4. Understand how to light each firework and what it does when lit. 

5. Keep at least two buckets of water around. One should be used to hold finished fireworks and duds. The second should be used (although, hopefully it won’t be necessary) for emergencies. A nearby water hose is also good precaution.

6. Do not try to relight a firework that fizzles out. Wait 15 minutes to make sure that it won’t restart on its own, and then have an adult place it in a bucket of water.

7. Do not touch the burnt end of your fireworks after they have finished; they may still be very hot.

8. Do not put fireworks of any kind close to someone’s face. Even small sparks can cause an injury.

9. Choose an open location, away from flammable objects such as propane grills, when setting off fireworks.

For more information on being safe with fireworks, check out the National Council on Fireworks Safety. Have fun!


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