Waging #039;war#039; on Independence Day

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 30, 2004

The Fourth of July is almost here. This is one of my favorite holidays because it is a big holiday in the middle of summer.

The Fourth of July means barbecues and a good time for all.

However, there is an ugly side to this wonderful holiday.

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As you know the Fourth of July means fireworks. There is nothing wrong with that.

Good fireworks shows are what make the holiday special.

The problem arises when another Fourth of July tradition comes into play.

That tradition is the bottle rocket war.

I have been a part of some of the more destructive bottle rocket wars known to man.

Because of this I have retired from this holiday tradition.

I do feel it is my responsibility to pass on the knowledge I have gained through numerous mistakes between myself and friends.

First, if you must have a bottle rocket war, don't aim for the head. I shouldn't have to explain why. There is a lot more satisfaction in shooting someone in the rump with a bottle rocket than blinding them.

On that same note, you should never participate in a bottle rocket war if you have long hair.

One of my high school classmates has a permanent gray streak in her hair because of this. I'm not sure how it happened, I just know she should have been bobbing instead of weaving.

Location is also important to avoid major accidents.

Please keep in mind during a bottle rocket war, a hayfield is not the place to be. It only takes one small spark to make a huge mess. Believe me, I know! Since most of where I grew up is composed of hayfields we usually had several Fourth of July and New Years accidents each year.

Also remember you don't have to outgun your friends. If you are having a bottle rocket war only use bottle rockets! If you have ever taken a Roman Candle shot to the chest you know what I am talking about. Bottle rockets don't exactly tickle. So taking a big ball of fire is unbearable.

Another problem with strange ammunition is you never know what is going to happen.

My brother-in-law once thought he had an innocent smoke bomb. We were all proven wrong when it exploded. This resulted in one of many Fourth of July trips to the hospital.

This brings me to my last point. You are not invincible.

No matter how brave you want to be in the line of battle, remember this…Fire is hot! When it hits you it burns!

The best advice I can give you is to avoid the bottle rocket war altogether.

It is a fire departments nightmare. As fun as it may seem there really are no good things that can come from a bottle rocket war.

Just enjoy your barbecue and the pretty lights.

If you must play with fire please take these warnings to heart.

They may not save your life, but they could save an eyebrow or the embarrassment of a trip to the emergency room.

Rick Couch may be reached at

383-9302, ext. 132 or

via email at rick. couch@greenvilleadvocate.com.