Topeka – The Kansas Department of Health and Environment, Office of the State Fire Marshal and Safe Kids Kansas would, again, like to remind Kansans of the importance of safety this Independence Day.
“While our Fourth of July celebrations will undoubtedly be a little bit different this year, we want to remind everyone the importance of safety this season -- safety for COVID-19 and safety for fireworks,” Secretary Lee Norman, KDHE Secretary said.
First, check with your community concerning mass gatherings/public events and what is permitted.
“This has been a unique year due to the COVID-19 restrictions across the state. As those restrictions are being lifted, we understand many will especially be looking forward to celebrating this year’s Fourth of July,” Doug Jorgensen, Fire Marshal for the State of Kansas, said. “We know the safest way to enjoy fireworks is to visit view public fireworks displays conducted by trained professionals who know how to properly handle fireworks. For some counties, those displays have been cancelled or postponed out of an abundance of caution for COVID-19.”
For those planning to attend gatherings or public events, it’s important to practice social distancing (6 feet or more) from people who are outside of your household as well as to wear face masks during this time.
“If choosing to go to any events or gatherings, please be vigilant with the safety of yourself and your family,” Norman said. “Now is not the time to relax our guard – wear the facemask, practice social distancing – you own your own preparedness."
For those choosing to celebrate at home, it’s important to remember that fireworks are dangerous to both adults and children if not handled properly.
Out of 135 reported fireworks-related injuries in Kansas in 2019, males between the ages of 9 and 34 were the most commonly injured demographic, according to the 2019 Kansas Fireworks Injury Survey. Males represented 65 percent of the total number of injuries. Nearly half of the injuries involved children under the age of 18 and occurred on July 4. Hands, eyes, face and head injuries were among those reported.
“Hand injuries are the most common injury seen in Kansas, at 33 percent,” Cherie Sage, Director of Safe Kids Kansas, said. “It’s really important for little hands to not light fireworks. This includes sparklers, which burn at a temperature hot enough to melt glass. We encourage parents to let their little ones use glow sticks instead of sparklers.”
The data was collected through voluntary reporting from Kansas hospitals and administered by the Office of the State Fire Marshal.
Jorgensen added that always using a long-handled lighter to ignite fireworks, lighting from a solid, flat and stable platform and making sure fireworks debris has cooled off completely before disposing, are tips that can significantly lower the risk of injuries and fires.
Other tips include:
Bottle rockets and M80s are illegal in Kansas and extremely dangerous. The use or sale of these banned fireworks is considered a crime under Kansas law. It is also illegal in Kansas to shoot fireworks on or under any vehicle, on any public roadway, within 50 feet of a fireworks stand or where fireworks are stored, and at gas stations or any place liquid gas – including propane – is stored.
Always refer to the local ordinances as to whether fireworks are allowed in your area as well as what types. Some cities or counties have restricted dates/times or types of fireworks that may be sold or discharged.
In addition, out of respect for veterans when it comes to the individual discharge of fireworks, please keep in mind the noise and stress (PTSD) your activities may cause near VA facilities.
For more information on fireworks safety, visit FireMarshal.ks.gov/fireworkssafety or SafeKidsKansas.org. For more information on COVID-19, visit www.kdheks.gov/coronavirus.