Don't be a bad neighbor: July Fourth etiquette rules for noise, fireworks

Colin Hayter of Clearwater shops with his father, Ron Hayter, at Phantom Fireworks in Tampa.
Colin Hayter of Clearwater shops with his father, Ron Hayter, at Phantom Fireworks in Tampa.
Published Jul. 2, 2015

If you must ignore the law and can't ignore your urge to blow something up on the Fourth of July, at least do your neighbors and their pets a favor by being considerate.

Etiquette expert Patricia Rossi of New Port Richey, the author of Everyday Etiquette, urges people to follow the Platinum Rule, which is one step further than the Golden Rule: "You treat people how they want to be treated, not how you want to be treated."

"You may be out partying, but think about people who may be trying to sleep, and about their children and their pets," Rossi said. "You don't need to be shooting them off the day before and the day after and on and on. Just get it all out of your system on the day of."

To avoid the ire of Rossi and your neighbors, follow these simple rules of etiquette:

Honor a curfew There are old folks and parents of young babies who may be tolerant of some Independence Day revelry, but don't test their patience into the wee hours of the morning. Rossi recommends knocking off the noise by 10 p.m., and, by no means, later than midnight.

Blow stuff up only on the Fourth of July. This is especially important for people with skittish pets. Their owners will likely have a plan in place for Saturday to be home with them or their vet may have given them some doggie downers to calm their jitters. That's not as likely today and certainly not on Sunday if you decide to get rid of your leftovers.

Avoid crowds. Do not take your own fireworks to a busy park or other gathering place.

Don't shoot your gun in the air. We shouldn't even have to say this, but considering that 7-year-old Brendon Mackey died July 4, 2013, in a Richmond, Va., hospital with a bullet lodged at the base of his skull, it clearly must be said. The shooter was likely a mile away and likely meant no harm, but a second-grader is dead because of it.

Clean up after yourself. Fireworks are not only messy, but also can leave behind sharp bits that can injure a bare foot or puncture a tire the next day.

Be mindful of street traffic. Don't hold up cars with a cloud of smoke, and don't use the middle of a road that gets any traffic as your staging area.

Stay sober. Mixing alcohol or other substances with fireworks or sparklers never ends well.

Sharon Kennedy Wynne, Times staff writer. Follow @SharonKWn.