Holidays

How to stay safe, legal while shooting off fireworks

Sparklers, fountains and foot-long firecracker packs are about to make their annual appearance as firework sales in Wichita start on Tuesday.

The dazzling displays of sparks and sound are at the heart of any Fourth of July celebration, but they can be problematic for children, pets, veterans and those trying to sleep before midnight.

To ensure a week of enjoyable fireworks fun – with no steep fines – here are some tips and information to keep in mind.

Guidelines by city

In some Sedgwick County cities, you can shoot off fireworks starting Tuesday. In others, you might have to wait until July 4. Here is a list by city of when fireworks are allowed.

Unincorporated Sedgwick County: July 1-4, 8 a.m.-midnight

Andale: June 30-July 4, 8 a.m.-11 p.m.

Bel Aire: July 4, 9 a.m.-11 p.m.

Bentley: July 1-5, 8 a.m.-11 p.m.

Cheney: July 1-3, 10 a.m.-10 p.m.; July 4, 10 a.m.-midnight

Clearwater: July 1-2, 10 a.m.-10 p.m.; July 3-4, 10 a.m.-midnight

Colwich: June 27-July 4, 8 a.m.-11 p.m.

Derby: June 27-July 2 and July 5, 8 a.m.-10 p.m.; July 3-4, 8 a.m.-midnight

Garden Plain: June 29-July 3, 10 a.m.-10 p.m.; July 4, 10 a.m.-11 p.m.

Goddard: June 27-July 3 and July 5, 8 a.m.-10 p.m.; July 4, 8 a.m.-11 p.m.

Haysville: June 27-July 2, 8 a.m.-10:30 p.m.; July 3-4, 8 a.m.-midnight

Kechi: June 27-July 2, 10 a.m.-10 p.m.; July 3-4, 10 a.m.-midnight

Maize: June 27-July 5, 8 a.m.-10:30 p.m.

Mount Hope: July 4, 8 a.m.-11 p.m.

Mulvane: June 27 and July 3-4, 8 a.m.-midnight; June 28-July 2, 8 a.m.-10 p.m.

Park City: June 27-July 2, 8 a.m.-10:30 p.m.; July 3-4, 8 a.m.-midnight

Valley Center: June 30-July 3, 10 a.m.-10 p.m.; July 4, 10 a.m.-11:30 p.m.

Viola: July 1-4, 9 a.m.-midnight

Wichita: June 27-July 5, 6 a.m.-midnight

For any fireworks complaints or other non-emergency issues, contact the Sedgwick County Emergency Communications hotline at 316-290-1011. The hotline will field complaints from 6:30 p.m. to 3 a.m. July 1 through July 4. Calls during non-operational hours will be transferred to 911.

What results in a fine?

Shooting illegal fireworks or discharging fireworks outside of the times approved by a city can result in a citation with a mandatory court appearance. In Wichita, fines can be up to $2,500 with the possibility of a year in jail. Fireworks that are illegally used, possessed or transported can be seized by police or the fire department, in accordance with county fire codes.

All fireworks sold within the Wichita city limits have been tested and approved by the Wichita Fire Department. There are almost 40 tents selling fireworks in Wichita this year, according to the fire department. Buying fireworks outside the city limits and bringing them back here to shoot heightens the risk of purchasing fireworks that may be illegal, said Fire Marshal Stuart Bevis. Fireworks that shoot higher than 6 feet are banned within city limits. For a full list of fireworks that are legal in Wichita, visit www.wichita.gov.

Veterans and fireworks

The explosive blasts and loud booms that result from fireworks can be triggers to veterans diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder, said Colleen Fulford of the Robert J. Dole VA Medical Center in Wichita.

“The element of surprise when a loud noise occurs … sounds like battlefield combat when a (veteran) is not expecting it,” she said in an e-mail. “Some combat veterans with PTSD symptoms experience a feeling of automatic response where they feel immediately as if they are at risk and vigilant to a perceived dangerous situation.”

Fulford offers this advice for veterans with PTSD.

▪ Block out the noise by using headphones to listen to music or TV.

▪ Wear noise-canceling headphones.

▪ Let your friends and family know.

▪ Call the Veterans Crisis Line at 800-273-8255 if in need of support.

“The VA provides group and individual interventions for veterans before and after the holiday to help plan for stressful events and to process these events after they occur,” Fulford said. “Any veteran struggling with PTSD can contact the VA in any available location to be evaluated for services.”

Fulford said services are available in behavioral health through the PTSD clinic, Peer Support Services, Substance Use Disorder Clinic and Therapy Services.

What about pets?

Fireworks displays bring excitement, but if you’ve got a furry friend at home, they may also bring headaches.

Pets of all types can be sensitive to the visual and audible effects of fireworks, which create anxiety in the animal.

It’s important, according to the Blue Cross for Pets, to behave normally when your pet begins to act anxious and to avoid yelling or shouting.

Ellen Beeson, office manager at Seneca Street Veterinary Clinic, said the best way to keep your pets calm is to have a pet owner stay with them while fireworks are going off.

If your presence alone isn’t helping, Beeson said, a dose of melatonin, which is available without a prescription, can help soothe a pet’s anxiety.

“I’ve seen that work with pet owners that just give it once at dusk,” she said. “It gets them through the rest of the night.”

Beeson said owners should use regular melatonin tablets or liquid forms. Dogs under 10 pounds need 1 milligram, dogs 10-25 pounds need 1.5 milligrams and dogs 25-100 pounds need 3 milligrams, she said.

Owners unsure of dosage should call their veterinarian before administering it to their pet.

The Blue Cross for Pets also encourages pet owners to:

▪ Keep their pets inside when fireworks are going off.

▪ Prepare a den for their pets in a comfortable safe space, such as under a bed.

▪ Turn on the television or radio to block out the sound of the fireworks.

▪ Let their pets pace, whine or hide – do not coax them out of hiding.

▪ Avoid leaving pets alone when fireworks may be lit nearby.

Safety concerns

Fireworks, barbecuing and outdoor activities is the formula for July 4th celebrations and for some, a visit to the hospital.

Last year, both Via Christi Health and Wesley Healthcare reported fireworks injuries in the double digits.

Wesley saw 15 fireworks-related injuries from June 27 to July 4 at its three locations. Injuries included burns and blunt-force trauma to heads, feet, hands and abdomens, according to a Wesley news release.

Twenty-five patients went to Via Christi with fireworks-related injuries last year, Thomas Resch, with the Via Christi burn unit, said in a news briefing on Monday. Of those 25 patients, 15 were treated in the burn unit.

Resch said they’ve seen fireworks injuries in patients ranging in age from 3 to 49. He said they most commonly see injuries relating to artillery shell, sparkler and fountain-type fireworks.

Ronda Lusk, with the Safe Kids Coalition of Wichita, said that, nationally, 1,500 children under the age of 15 are sent to emergency rooms with fireworks-related injuries each year. Lusk said for children under 5, sparklers account for over a third of those injuries.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 50 percent of fireworks-related injuries are burns, and the most injured body parts are hands and fingers. Resch said if you or someone around you is burned, run cool water on the area but do not put ice or freezing materials on the affected area. If the burn is severe, seek emergency help.

Lusk and the Wichita Fire Department encourage residents to attend public fireworks displays rather than lighting their own fireworks.

For those wanting to have their own home displays, the fire department suggests they:

▪ Closely supervise children using fireworks.

▪ Place a garden hose, fire extinguisher and/or water bucket nearby to douse fireworks.

▪ Safely dispose of used fireworks in a metal container; do not place in trash until safe.

▪ Use fireworks as they are designed to be used.

▪ Do not light fireworks if it’s windy.

▪ Keep fireworks away from grassy areas or structures.

By the numbers

In Wichita last year, there were:

8 fireworks citations (regarding illegal fireworks or discharge outside of approved time)

7 fireworks-related fire incidents

630 calls to the non-emergency hotline over the holiday weekend

2,600 calls to 911 over the holiday weekend, up from the typical average of 1,500 calls per day

40+ fireworks-related injuries reported

Delaney Hiegert: 316-268-6212,@Delaney_C, dhiegert@wichitaeagle.com

Kaitlyn Alanis: 316-268-6213, @KaitlynAlanis, kalanis@wichitaeagle.com

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