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Celebrate Safely This Independence Day with Tips from the Experts

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Prevent Fireworks Related Injuries this July 4

By the Kansas Department of Health and Environment 

 

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE), Office of the State Fire Marshal (KSFM) and Safe Kids Kansas would like to share some important safety tips to ensure that all Kansans have a safe and fun Independence Day this year. 

In 2023, there were a total of 146 injuries caused by fireworks in Kansas. The person igniting the firework was most likely to be injured, and the hands were the most common body part to be injured. Over half of the injuries that occurred from fireworks that happened on July Fourth were from burns. There was a 43 percent increase in reported injuries from 2022.

With the exception of two age groups all saw an increase. Injuries more than doubled for the 14–18-year-old age group. The highest incidents of injuries were caused by mortars or artillery fireworks and other fireworks like parachutes, fountains and spinning items. This data was collected through voluntary reporting from Kansas hospitals and administered by the Office of the State Fire Marshal.

 “Sparklers are often thought to be safe for young children, but they account for roughly one-quarter of all emergency room visits related to fireworks,” Cherie Sage, director of Safe Kids Kansas, said. “Children should not light fireworks, including 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 and leave the rest to grownups.”

Grilling is another favorite part of many summertime gatherings. Make sure grills are used outdoors only, away from the home and deck railings, and out from under eaves and overhanging branches. Keep children and pets away from the grill area and never leave your grill unattended. Clean your grill regularly to prevent grease fires.

”Enjoy a safe and happy July 4th,” Mark Engholm, State Fire Marshal, said.  “Always follow firework safety guidelines: keep spectators at a safe distance, never relight malfunctioning fireworks, and have a fire extinguisher or water source ready. When grilling, ensure the grill is on a flat, stable surface away from structures and flammable materials. Let’s celebrate responsibly and protect our community. If possible, go to a public fireworks display.”

Here are some tips to keep your celebrations safe:

  • Have adults supervise children and pets around grills and fireworks.
  • Designate a child-free safety zone around grills and areas where fireworks are being lit.
  • Store fireworks in a cool, dry place.
  • Adults should only handle fireworks. Consider giving children glow sticks, which also help you see little ones after dark.
  • Have a water supply ready, such as a bucket of water or garden hose.
  • Dispose of used fireworks carefully, as they may reignite.
  • Keep a first-aid kit available and nearby.
  • Ignite fireworks outdoors on a flat surface.
  • Light only one firework at a time.
  • Never stand over fireworks when lighting or holding a firework in your hand when lighting the fuse and wear eye protection.
  • Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully.
  • Never attempt to make your own fireworks.

Bottle rockets are illegal and M80 type of “fireworks” are considered explosives, and it is a felony in Kansas to possess, manufacture or use, as well as being extremely dangerous. The use or sale of these banned fireworks and explosives 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/216/ or SafeKidsKansas.org.

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