Fireworks will go on sale Friday, kicking off the annual four-day window when they are legal in Douglas County outside Lawrence.
The city does not allow the sale or use of fireworks at any time, but they are allowed in some nearby towns and unincorporated areas of the county in the days leading up to the Fourth of July.
Only novelty items such as sparklers, toy caps and party poppers are allowed in Lawrence. Larger items cause a handful of complaints each year, police said.
The maximum penalty for violating the city's fire code is a fine of up to $200. But usually, according to Fire Marshal James King, fire investigators and police officers simply educate offenders about the rules and confiscate the prohibited items.
People can buy and shoot off fireworks in rural parts of Douglas County from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. July 1 through 3 from 7 a.m. to midnight July 4. This year, 13 vendors will sell fireworks at 19 locations throughout the county.
Shooting areas cannot be on public roads or in public parks and must be a safe distance from buildings, on private property with the permission of the owner. Violating the county's fireworks rules is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of as much as $500 and up to a month in jail.
Bottle rockets and homemade fireworks are not allowed anywhere in Kansas.
Fireworks are allowed in Eudora during the same times, plus from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. July 1. In Baldwin City, they are permitted from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. July 1 and 2 and 8 a.m. to midnight July 3 and 4.
Fireworks safety tips:
- Only buy high-quality fireworks from a licensed source and follow the instructions.
- Don't carry fireworks in a clothes pocket. Store them in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight.
- Don't give fireworks to small children. Older children should be supervised by adults.
- Place the fireworks on a non-combustible pad a safe distance away from buildings and cars.
- Have a water source or fire extinguisher available.
- Have a “designated shooter.” Alcohol and fireworks do not mix.
- Wear eye protection when lighting fireworks.
- Don't light fireworks inside metal, glass or plastic containers.
- Light only one firework at a time. Don't try to reignite one that malfunctions.
- Clean up fireworks and debris and put used casings in a bucket of water before throwing them away the next day.
Alcohol safety tips:
Members of the New Tradition Coalition of Lawrence, which targets underage drinking, say these tips are important if you’re hosting a party:
- Know who at the party is not 21 and make sure they do not have access to alcohol.
- Serve plenty of non-alcoholic drinks.
- Serve enough food because consumption of food will help absorb alcohol.
- Line up designated drivers or make sleeping accommodations for guests who are drinking.