With the Fourth of July less than three weeks away, firefighters are gearing up for the fireworks season and getting out the word on fireworks safety.
"Celebrate, but celebrate safely," said Ed C. Redmon, state fire marshal and spokesman for the Kansas Fireworks Assn.
Last year, fires triggered by careless use of fireworks caused more than $214,000 damage in Kansas.
Lawrence Fire Marshal Maj. Rich Barr said four fires, three that damaged structures, were linked to fireworks in Lawrence last year.
Aerial displays concern firefighters the most, Barr said.
"There's always the possibility that they could float over into a combustible area," Barr said.
CELEBRATORS should be especially cautious near homes with wood shake siding, and in parks or fields containing dry vegetation.
Barr suggested igniting fireworks on pavement or gravel.
"Follow the manufacturer's directions explicitly. Then ignite them and stand back," Barr said.
Audiences should remain at least 25 feet from ground displays, Barr suggested, and at least 40 feet from where aerial displays are being launched.
Always give a device ample time to detonate before approaching it, Barr said. Some fuses may burn slower than others. Barr suggested waiting 10 minutes before approaching a faulty device, and then placing the device in a bucket of water.
Kansas hospitals reported that 120 people were treated for fireworks related injuries last year. Sixty-eight percent of those admitted were children.
Adults should always be present when children are igniting fireworks, Barr said.
"It can be a festive time when the whole family is involved," Barr said. "Just make sure it is a controlled situation."
BOTTLEROCKETS, a favorite of children, have been banned in Kansas since 1989, as have "moon rockets," skyrockets and all other rockets mounted on sticks or wires.
Bottlerockets are traditionally shot out of soda bottles, a practice Redmon said celebrators should never follow. Combustible material should never be lit in glass or metal containers, Redmon said.
"If it detonates in a glass bottle, there will be glass flying everywhere. If it's in metal you'll have a dangerous projectile," Barr said. "Improper use is always dangerous."
Redmon offered the following tips to insure a safe Fourth of July:
Purchase only those fireworks approved for sale in Kansas.
Keep fireworks away from small children.
Light only one item at a time.
Never attempt to re-light any fireworks that fail to ignite.
Keep a bucket of water, garden hose or fire extinguisher on hand in case of emergency.
Fireworks will be allowed in Lawrence for three days: from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. July 2 and 3 and from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. July 4.
All fireworks sales are illegal within the Lawrence city limits.