How many wounded or dead children does it take to discourage the practice of individuals and families playing with fireworks? The answer is yet to be determined, but it is higher than 10,000.

More than 9,600 people were treated in hospital emergency rooms for injuries associated with fireworks in 2004, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. It reports that more than half of those injuries were burns involving the hands, eyes and heads of victims. Nearly half of the victims were under the age of 15.

Despite the numerous restrictions placed on the types of fireworks that can be sold to the public, the amount of explosive powder legal fireworks can contain and the areas in which they can be ignited, none of the regulations have served to prevent accidents that wound, maim and kill.

The simple solution is one derived by placing a value on the lives of children and young adults that prioritizes their safety over indulging in a mindless tradition involving amateurs and pyromaniacs exposing themselves and surrounding communities to unnecessary dangers. There is no question that hospital emergency rooms receive adult and child patients each year with injuries that could have been avoided.

According to Cindy Parks, Emergency Department Nurse Manager at Ashland Community Hospital, the Fourth of July time frame is the "peak of the year" for the hospital. Some of the most common injuries are due to kids with sparklers burning other kids, and adults and kids alike receiving burns from firecrackers going off inadvertently (usually when checked after failing to ignite when expected), Parks said. Such injuries aren't relegated solely to youth. Adults receive just as many injuries.

The celebration of Independence Day is an organized tradition of parades, vendor booths, activities and, of course fireworks. When conducted in a safe manner by experts in explosive materials, the Fourth of July fireworks celebration can be an enjoyable time for all, including police, firefighters and hospital personnel who routinely have to mitigate the damage done by individuals who become victims of their own frivolous behavior.