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How To Let Sparks Fly Safely This Holiday Weekend

fireworks_john_haslam.jpg
John Haslam, flickr Creative Commons
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Fireworks season has begun — and chances are you already knew that based on the explosions in your neighborhood.

Legal use of fireworks was not supposed to begin until last Saturday, the first day fireworks went on sale. But Sedgwick County officials say they got numerous calls complaining about fireworks well before last Saturday.

The American Pyrotechnics Association is predicting record sales of consumer fireworks and an uptick in backyard celebrations because many large public events have been canceled due to the pandemic. That includes Wichita’s Red White & Boom, which was scheduled for Sunday evening.

According to the website zippia.com, Kansas imports more than 12 million fireworks each year. That puts Kansas third in fireworks per capita behind Missouri and Nebraska.

Some reminders about fireworks during the holiday season:

Wichita

Residents can shoot off fireworks between 10 a.m. and midnight through Sunday.

Only fireworks approved by the Wichita Fire Department are allowed inside the city limits. Generally those are fireworks that sparks no higher than 6 feet.

The Fire Department says it will increase enforcement this year for people who shoot illegal fireworks. Violations can result in a $250 ticket.

Fire officials say adults can be cited for juveniles who break the law, and property owners are responsible for any violations occurring on their property.

Sedgwick County

In unincorporated parts of the county, fireworks can be used from Wednesday through Saturday.

Fireworks regulations vary in many of the cities in Sedgwick County. Officials say you should check local regulations before purchasing and shooting fireworks.

Fireworks complaints

Sedgwick County's non-emergency phone line goes active on Wednesday: 316-290-1011. The line is meant to serve as an alternative to 9-1-1 for people with non-emergency issues, such as complaints about fireworks and parties.

Officials with the county’s Emergency Communications department encourage people to use the line when dealing with non-life threatening issues so that calls for actual emergencies can be handled more quickly.

The line will operate daily from 6 p.m. until 3 a.m. through the morning of July 5.

Injuries

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment reported 135 fireworks-related injuries last year. Men accounted for two-thirds of the injuries and nearly half involved children under the age of 18.

The state says hand injuries were the most common type of injury. It recommends young children play with glow sticks instead of sparklers.

It also recommends having an adult supervise all fireworks activities; keeping a first-aid kit and water supply nearby; not relighting a firework that malfunctions, and lighting one firework at a time.

The state Fire Marshal’s office says bottle rockets and high-powered firecrackers, like M-80s, are illegal in Kansas.

If you go to a large public fireworks event, state health officials say to practice social distancing and to wear a face mask.

Pets

Generally, fireworks frighten most pets.

The Kansas Humane Society recommends keeping pets inside when fireworks are exploding. If you need to take them outside, even after the fireworks have ended, put them on a leash.

Make sure your pet has a collar with an identification tag in case it does get loose. (The ASPCA has more pet safety tips here.)