County fireworks ordinances
It is illegal to ignite, explode or use fireworks within the city limits of Lawrence at any time. In the unincorporated area of Douglas County, firework use is permissible from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. July 2-3 and from 7 a.m. to midnight July 4.
In the city of Lawrence, some novelty items are acceptable for neighborhood parades and family celebrations, according to the Lawrence Douglas County Fire Medical Department, including:
- Party poppers: small items not more than .25 grains of explosive with a string protruding from the device that is usually pulled to ignite.
- Snapper: small paper-wrapped item with no more than .02 grains of explosive that, when dropped, the device explodes.
- Snakes, glow worms: produces a snake-like ash upon burning.
- Sparklers: Wire or stick coated with pyrotechnic material that ignites to produce a shower of sparks (sparklers are only permitted in Lawrence June 27- July 5 as part of the state-permitted items).
- Toy caps: toy plastic or paper caps for toys in sheets, strips, rolls or individual.
- Toy smoke devices: produce smoke only and with a limited amount of pyrotechnic material.
Fireworks are fun and sparkly, and many people like to put on their own shows at home. But playing with consumer fireworks can be very dangerous and should only be used with extreme caution.
Lawrence Memorial Hospital emergency room physician Dr. Lisa Gard says most injuries caused by fireworks aren’t life-threatening but can be life-changing nonetheless.
“The most devastating injuries, I think, occur on the hand and the eye,” Gard says.
“Any kind of burn that takes place on the hand can permanently limit your mobility because the hand has such fine function. If you get a second-degree burn that takes off that first layer of skin, you can get scar tissue to where you cannot fully open and close your hand properly. And most people are (setting off fireworks) with their dominant hand, and that can permanently affect your ability to function.”
To avoid injury, Gard advises people never to throw fireworks and to use punks, instead of matches, when setting them off on the ground.
“The problem is you get too close and it can explode in your hand or eye. If it gets within the eye socket itself, it can detach the retina and cause blindness,” Gard says. “If it’s close enough to the ear and ruptures the eardrum, it can cause permanent hearing damage. And then the burns, anywhere on the body, obviously from a pain standpoint and the scars, are very devastating injuries we see.”
Gard recommends avoiding loose, baggy clothes when lighting fireworks.
“Clothes can actually catch fire, and you can get a topical or direct contact burn where the clothing will adhere to the skin,” she says.
Before you light up your neighborhood, check out these other safety tips from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (www.cpsc.gov):
- Make sure fireworks are permitted in your state or local area. Many states and local governments prohibit or limit consumer fireworks.
- Don’t allow young children to play with fireworks under any circumstances. Sparklers, considered by many a “safe” firework for the young, burn at very high temperatures and can ignite clothing. Children cannot understand the danger involved and cannot act appropriately in case of emergency.
- Older children should only be permitted to use fireworks under close adult supervision. Do not allow any running or horseplay.
- Light fireworks outdoors in a clear area away from houses, dry leaves or grass and flammable materials.
- Keep a bucket of water nearby for emergencies and for pouring on fireworks that don’t go off.
- Do not try to relight or handle malfunctioning fireworks. Douse and soak them with water and throw them away.
- Be sure other people are out of range before lighting fireworks.
- Never ignite fireworks in a container, especially a glass or metal container.
- Keep unused fireworks away from firing areas.
- Store fireworks in a dry, cool place. Check instructions for special storage directions.
- Never have any portion of your body directly over a firework while lighting.
- Don’t experiment with homemade fireworks.