The Great Bend Fire Department, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, Kansas Fire Marshal’s Office and Safe Kids Kansas would like to remind Kansans of the importance of fireworks safety this Independence Day.
“Although fun, fireworks are dangerous to property, adults and children if not handled properly,” said Great Bend Fire Chief Luke McCormick. “It’s all about being vigilant.”
Of of the 24 calls his department responded to last July 4, 13 were fires, including one garage fire. “That was a busy day,” he said.
“When you are finished shooting off fireworks, make sure you dispose of them property,” McCormick said. Make sure all spent and dud fireworks are dowsed and all trash containers with the holiday debris are not stored in or near structures as there is still a chance they could reignite.
“And, as always, remember to discharge your fireworks only when it is appropriate to do so,” he said. That is from 10 a.m. to midnight in Great Bend and 8 a.m. to midnight out in the county.
Bottle rockets and M-80s are illegal in Kansas and extremely dangerous, McCormick said. The use or sale of these banned fireworks is a crime in Kansas. 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.
In addition, McCormick said that if you are using fireworks in a rural area, make sure you have permission from the land owner first.
“Wheat harvest is later this year and the wheat is very dry,” he said, adding it makes for perfect tinder and will ignite quickly and easily. “Just watch what you are doing and be careful.”
Although none were reported in Barton County, there were 207 reported fireworks-related injuries in Kansas in 2018. Males between the ages of 9 and 34 were the most commonly injured demographic, according to the 2018 Kansas Fireworks Injury Survey.
Males represented 64 percent of the total number of injuries. Nearly half of the injuries involved children under the age of 18. Hands, eyes, face and head injuries were among those reported.
The data was collected through voluntary reporting from Kansas hospitals and administered by the Office of the State Fire Marshal.
“Hand injuries are the most common injury seen in Kansas, at 34 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.”
“We want all Kansans to have a fun, safe Fourth of July,” said Doug Jorgensen, Kansas fire marshal. “We know the safest way to enjoy fireworks is to visit public fireworks displays conducted by trained professionals who know how to properly handle fireworks. If you are going to purchase and partake in consumer fireworks, a few simple precautions can prevent you or your loved ones from becoming one of these statistics.”
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.
“It’s everyone’s responsibility to ensure a safe and healthy holiday,” Lee Norman, Secretary of KDHE, said. “Having a water supply handy, being prepared with first aid kits and following the laws and safety protocols are just a few ways Kansans of every age can come together for a great, safe Fourth of July.”
Always refer to the local ordinances as to whether fireworks are allowed in your area as well as what types.
For more information on fireworks safety, contact the GBFD at 620-93-4140, or visit FireMarshal.ks.gov/fireworkssafety or SafeKidsKansas.org.
Great Bend Fire Chief Luke McCormick offered the following fireworks safety tips:
• Have an adult supervise all fireworks activities.
• Always ignite fireworks outdoors.
• Light only one firework at a time.
• Never re-ignite malfunctioning fireworks.
• Use longer lighters.
• Set off fireworks from stable surfaces.
• Make sure all spent and dud fireworks are wetted down and disposed of carefully, and not in or near structures.
• Obey state laws and local ordinances pertaining to times to discharge fireworks and what sort of items are allowed.
• Store fireworks in a cool, dry place.