With the 4th of July swiftly approaching, Wichita County officials want citizens to be well informed about the current ordinances and restrictions on fireworks. Fireworks can only be shot off from private property with the owner’s permission. Residents need to remember that it is illegal to shoot fireworks from within the city limits without prior approval from the city. Not following these restrictions can result in class C misdemeanors. In addition, violators may also face fines of up to $500.00.
NBC News recently reported that fireworks hurt 5,000 people in the weeks around July 4th last year. Sparklers aren’t always the safest option either. Dr. Andrew Sama, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians, notes that a sparkler can burn as hot as a blow torch, at nearly 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. More than half of the injuries reported included burns to the face, hands or head. Around 1,000 of the reported injuries involved sparklers and bottle rockets, which most families consider safe for children to handle.
Sadly, a dangerous new trend to bind sparklers together killed a group of people in Arkansas last year. Six people in Buckner, Arkansas were killed when their ‘sparkler bomb’ unexpectedly went off. The group was celebrating the 4th of July, when their sparkler bomb prematurely exploded. A 17-year-old boy was among the victims. The exploding power of a sparkler bomb has been likened to that of a stick of dynamite. Even when sparklers and other ‘safe’ fireworks are used as they are intended, malfunctions and misfires can occur.
Cynthia Quarterman, an administrator with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), wants to remind citizens that fireworks are explosives. The PHMSA is actively working to prevent the importation of illegal fireworks. Last year, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials found that 30 percent of tested shipments of imported fireworks were in violation of the Federal Hazardous Substance Act. NBC News is quick to point out that most injuries occur when fireworks malfunction.
Dr. Sama wants to remind families that no fireworks can be labeled as “completely safe.”