Keep All Fingers And Toes This Fourth Of July

TOPEKA, Kansas (WIBW) -- Those familiar tents are popping up all over - vendors anticipating swarms of people ready to buy fireworks and shoot them off all day and night.

The tents in Topeka open for business Thursday, June 27.

Of course you'll want to keep all your fingers and toes, and the key to doing that during the holiday is simple common sense.

With fireworks on the market that blow up in just about every way, there are some fundamentals to stick to when buying and using them.

"They need to buy from a reputable retailer and be careful they're not getting their hands on homemade things, and don't experiment with the products," Topeka Fire Marshal Greg Moody said.

Topeka reported 13 fireworks injuries in 2012, compared to 20 in 2005. To keep that number down, you need to use common sense.

"Light the wick, get out of the way and enjoy," Bob Smith said.

Bob has operated a fireworks tent for seven years and has seen them become safer.

"You'll have a performance description and also a duration time, how long it takes, and also it'll tell you if you should light it on the ground, whatever."

Bob sells 10-foot safety fuses, which allow more time to get out of the way before the firework blows up, decreasing the chances of injury. Bob has sold them for three years.

"Nothing is ever guaranteed because you're blowing stuff up," tent operator Crystal Green said, "but they make them as safe as they can and there's clear instructions on the packaging."

"With any fireworks, don't light them with your head above it, obviously," Moody said. "Use long punks, don't reignite your duds, any debris dispose preferably in a metal can away from the house."

Moody also said that people misusing fireworks are a reason why people are sent to the hospital. He strongly advises against holding fireworks with your hand and shooting fireworks at another person or building.

There were 18 total injuries reported from Topeka and Shawnee County combined in 2012, and most of them were burns and flying debris.

Of the 20 fireworks injuries reported in Topeka in 2005, eleven of those were a result of fireworks that were not permissible in city limits. Metal sparklers and bottle rockets or skyrockets are illegal in Kansas, unless they are in the possession of a licensed transporter.

Metal sparklers are banned because of how hot the rods can become. Bottle rockets and skyrockets are banned because of their high potential to travel at long distances and ignite fields and structures on fire.

Fire inspectors inspect all tents in Topeka and Shawnee County prior to set-up and prior to the first day of sales. Inspectors check for fire extinguishers, marked exits, no flammables, proper signage, barricades around the tent and the retailer's product.

Moody said all tents set up have permits and should be reputable retailers.

Discharging fireworks is allowed in Topeka city limits on July 1 through July 3 from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., and on July 4 from 8 a.m. to midnight.

Anyone who is reported or caught shooting off fireworks after the designated time, July 4, will be subject to fines and confiscation of fireworks.


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