WARRENSBURG — With the ongoing pandemic and two local fireworks displays not taking place this year, many families will celebrate Independence Day this July 4 at home.
While it may seem like the best time to avoid the crowds and set up a fireworks display in the back yard, the Warrensburg Fire Department reminds residents of the dangers of fireworks.
“As part of the fire prevention code that is adopted by City Council, the use, possession, et cetera, of fireworks within the city limits is prohibited with the exception of having a special operational permit for a display,” Fire Prevention Officer Jeremy VanWey said.
A special operational permit is issued for large displays, such as the annual celebration at Grover Park Baptist Church, but, due to the ongoing pandemic, the church has stated it will not host a celebration this year.
The Boom and Blooms event at Powell Gardens has also been canceled.
“For the general public, (fireworks) are unlawful to have and use within the city limits,” VanWey said. “This year is going to be a bit different because we usually encourage people to go to a public display, leave it to the professionals. … And that is going to be a little more difficult this year because a lot of the local shows or fireworks displays are cancelled, postponed.”
The National Fire Protection Association has a list of activities people can use to celebrate Independence Day without the use of fireworks, including:
Using glow sticks, noise makers and silly string instead of sparklers and fireworks.
Hosting an outdoor movie night.
Having cake for America’s birthday.
In the United States, thousands of people sustain fireworks-related injuries every year.
In 2018, an estimated 9,100 people sought emergency care for fireworks-related injuries, according to the NFPA.
“Burns account for 44% of the fireworks injuries seen in the month around July 4,” NFPA information states.
Injuries to the hand or finger make up 28% of injuries from fireworks. Other injuries include legs at 24%; eye at 19%; head, face or ear at 15%; trunk at 10%; and arm at 4%.
Of those injured, more than a third were under the age of 15.
Annually, fireworks are also the determined cause for an estimated 19,500 reported fires in the United States.
“That is one of the big things we look at especially in a city like Warrensburg,” VanWey said. “Houses and buildings and apartments are fairly close. We have, just in my time with the Warrensburg Fire Department, we’ve had several fires that were started from the use of fireworks and the improper use of fireworks. We also see a lot of injuries every year and especially with kids.”
A sparkler, handheld firework often used by children, can burn up to 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit, the NFPA states.
“The number one firework that causes injuries each year is actually sparklers,” VanWey said. “They account for about 25% of the emergency room injuries.”
VanWey said that if a consumer does decide to go ahead and use fireworks, it is for their safety that they:
Follow all instructions so fireworks are used properly.
Do not make improvised devices or homemade fireworks.
Do not try to relight a firework and soak any fireworks that do not go off.
Make sure children and teenagers are supervised at all times.
Do not handle fireworks while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Make sure they are in a safe area.
Are aware of surroundings and are paying attention.
VanWey said, with the ongoing pandemic, consumers should be aware face masks are often constructed with flammable material and can ignite easily.
To learn more about fireworks safety, visit nfpa.org/fireworks.
To learn more about fire safety education, visit nfpa.org/education.