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Fourth of July fireworks

Fireworks light up the sky over Valparaiso at the Fourth of July celebration last year.

Just because you can doesn't mean you should.

It's a principle fireworks-happy Regionites should take to heart now that the July 4 holiday is over.

Indiana law allows citizens to set off fireworks throughout the year, from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m., though local ordinances, which vary among municipalities, often dictate shorter windows of allowable time.

But just because Hoosiers are allowed to continue igniting showers of light and deafening mortar blasts beyond the holiday doesn't mean it’s prudent or neighborly to do so.

Consider families with young children or infants living in or near your neighborhood. Many new parents get precious little sleep when fireworks awaken already tenuously sleeping babies.

Neighbors who work early morning shifts surely don't appreciate sounds reminiscent of Civil War cannon echoing in the sleeping hours.

And what about the proximity in which fireworks frequently are ignited to homes and other structures? Though Indiana law allows people to light fireworks on their own property, those same folks are liable for any damage done to other property, not to mention the safety risk to human lives from incendiary explosions.

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A reminder of this is as close as a recent fire in Portage, in which an errant firework caused extensive damage to a home there.

Damaging someone else's property with fireworks could result in a fine of $5,000, one year in prison and legal restitution. It also could lead to civil lawsuits filed against the fireworks user.

Launching fireworks on property that doesn't belong to the user or isn't a municipally designated launching area also can garner fines of $500 per infraction.

Our Region authorities should be diligent in enforcing these laws.

Though they're frequently associated with revelry, many fireworks are dangerous, explosive devices capable of maiming, amputating, scarring and destroying.

Treat all fireworks with care and respect, but more importantly, respect your neighbors. Loud booms at all hours of the night aren't fun for everyone, and common courtesy dictates restraint.

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Members of The Times Editorial Board are Publisher Christopher T. White, Editor Marc Chase, Deputy Editor Kerry Erickson, Regional News Editor Sharon Ross, Assistant Deputy Editor Andrew Steele.