Monday, January 11, 2010

The legend of Nian - how fireworks were invented

By Rep. Marilyn Lee
District 38 - Mililani, Mililani Mauka

Chinese legend has it that a ferocious mythical monster, Nian, which means “year”, once terrorized the common people. He emerged every New Year’s Eve to prey on humans. People battling the monster began to realize he was afraid of noise, light and the color red, and that bamboo placed in the fire would pop and crackle as the air inside caused the stems to expand and shatter with an explosive sound. That was how firecrackers were invented.

Unfortunately, the fireworks have now become the beast terrorizing the people, and our fire, police and EMS workers must now go out to battle them during the holiday season. Shocking news appeared in the newspaper about two children critically burned by fireworks on Maui. A Honolulu physician warns of serious consequences from fireworks burns and, unbelievably, no system of reporting such injuries exists. Research warns of hearing loss in young children exposed to very loud noises, even for a short period. Pets cower and require medication and special housing during the holidays.

The misuse of fireworks has become a public safety hazard that cannot be ignored any longer. This year, the loud explosive booms, illegal aerials and smoky ground works reached a new plateau – more complaints were received by the Honolulu Police Department than ever before. More letters were received by legislators in favor of a total ban than ever before. A total ban would still require tougher sanctions on those who persist in disobeying the law, and community education would be needed to help people realize the dangers inherent in unbridled use of pyrotechnics.

It is now the fireworks beast who must be tamed and peace must return to our celebration of the New Year. Everyone in the community has a right to enjoy a safe holiday.

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