By now, we’re all pretty familiar with the effects the current pandemic can have on the human body. But there are other symptoms that affect people — people who don’t have the virus but instead are suffering from months of isolation, feeling lonely, depressed, and anxious, or having weird dreams. Some say domestic violence is also up, because of cabin fever.
Then there are the effects on the economy — starting with the Great Toilet Paper Drought of 2020 (which finally seems to be over), and including a crash in oil prices as air travel collapsed and millions of people stopped commuting to work; and a surplus of agricultural products, with schools and restaurants closed, leading some farmers to plow crops under and dump milk on the ground. The travel and hospitality industries are on life support, and hospitals are hurting because so many elective surgeries were canceled. Churches are feeling the pain because, with the pews empty, collections are down.
On the brighter side, the air quality has improved some because we’re burning less gasoline and diesel.
But the few benefits of the shutdown have been outweighed by the problems — and here’s another one:
People are bored, of course, and many of them have stocked up on fireworks — both legal and illegal — for a little excitement. And with all the public fireworks displays for Independence Day canceled, there has been some trouble.
Last Friday, Meriden police seized an estimated $5,000 worth of illegal fireworks from a garage behind a residence. Photos showed numerous packages of fireworks stacked on shelves and under the roof rafters. This was after the Patrol Division had fielded “numerous complaints” in the area.
People in Wallingford and other towns have also been complaining of unofficial explosions in neighborhoods — particularly people with small children or skittish pets who become upset at the loud booms. Veterans with Post-traumatic Stress Syndrome can also be affected.
This year, fireworks simply aren't being saved for Independence Day. They've become a nightly nuisance ringing out from Connecticut to California, angering sleep-deprived residents and alarming elected officials. Hartford police say they have been responding to up to 200 complaints a day.
But it’s more than a matter or annoyance. Meriden first responders were dispatched Friday in what officials suspect was a fireworks-related incident. A 17-year-old boy was taken to the Connecticut Burn Center at Bridgeport Hospital with serious burns. And last Wednesday a 3-year-old girl was injured while watching fireworks from her apartment window in New York City.
“This is a real problem,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “It is not just a quality-of-life problem and a noise problem.”
It is definitely a safety problem as well.
In 2017, eight people died and over 12,000 required medical treatment after fireworks-related incidents, according to the National Safety Council. Half of those injuries were to children and teens. Additionally, fireworks start an average of 18,500 fires each year.
So enjoy the nation’s birthday, by all means. But we urge everyone to do so safely.