With Halloween right around the corner Lake Country residents are sure to be getting excited about the spectacular community bonfire and fireworks display held at Beasley Park. Then in the background against the Lake Country hills, residents can usually hear the pop, burst and bangs of other private family Halloween celebrations taking place.

The event at Beasley is always a huge success, and is put on by trained fire professionals, ensuring the safety and enjoyment of everyone around. The smaller pops, bangs and bursts of colour in the community are dangerous and illegal.

Did you know it's estimated that approximately 200 Canadians are injured annually by so-called family fireworks? Unfortunately most of those at the receiving end of the potentially painful, disfiguring and sometimes fatal injuries, are teens between the ages of 15 and 19. Children between 5 and 9 are the second most at risk. Sad and scary.

We have all probably seen or participated in these illegal' fireworks celebrations (don't worry, we won't tell on you) and it may be amusing when someone loses their eyebrows for a few weeks. But what happens when it's your 5 year old daughter, or teenage son, who ends up with a scar on his or her beautiful face that will be with them for the rest of their life a constant reminder of the family fun celebration' that went all too wrong.

Bottle rockets are particularly dangerous because their flight path is erratic, their fuses are non-standard and their explosive power is enough to turn a launch site' bottle or can into shrapnel. Even if you are prepared to accept the risk to yourself, using fireworks near your family pet is both cruel and inhumane as explosive fireworks cause animals immense fear and stress; and rover might just run and catch thrown fireworks in his mouth believing them to be toys.

Not only are they dangerous, but in Canada it is illegal to purchase or use fireworks without a permit. Fireworks authorized for sale in BC can be purchased and used legally in most BC communities by adults only, from October 24 to November 1 each year. Some municipalities have different bylaws in place to protect residents, structures and animals from unintended injury and negative consequences resulting from people playing with fireworks. In Lake Country the law (Bylaw 800, 2011) says that to use fireworks you must have written permission from the Fire Chief and prove that you have taken appropriate precautions to protect people and property which may be injured or otherwise harmed by such a public display. If you are the one responsible for a fireworks display you might want to check that you have sufficient third-party liability insurance.

There can be extreme legal and social consequences for illegal fireworks activity too. Kids can be suspended or expelled from school to start with. If there are damages, get your cheque book out (or credit card if it's a big one!); and if you are charged, you can be faced with community service, fines and yes, even jail time which will give you a nice little checked box in the criminal record' section of passport and job applications.

So, is it worth it?

How about this: free hotdogs and hot chocolate from the Lake Country Lions Club, your very own Lake Country Fire Department lighting up a giant bonfire to keep you warm while you visit with friends, neighbours and maybe even meet some new people in the community, the squeals of enjoyment when the little ones see the fire truck and realize that, yes, they are allowed to go see it (with permission), and of course, the entirely safe, secure and organized celebration on the spookiest day of the year watching the bursts of red, green, white and purple fireworks in the sky above.

Be safe and come join friends and neighbours at Beasley Park October 31st for a Lake Country community Halloween.