It’s been a little more than a year since Kentucky’s laws on consumer fireworks changed, and with at least five retail spots open in Leitchfield the changes have meant explosive business.
Adopted in the spring of 2011, the changes expanded legal fireworks in Kentucky from ground devices and novelties to the full line of consumer fireworks.
With the increased availability comes an increase in the potential for fireworks-related injuries.
Dr. Douglas Snow, director of the Emergency Department at Twin Lakes Regional Medical Center, offered the following suggestions to help keep home fireworks displays safer:
* Never use fireworks while barefoot or wearing sandals. Closed toe shoes can prevent severe burns to the feet.
* The person igniting the fireworks should wear safety eyeglasses. Many blinding injuries could be prevented every year with this simple move, he said.
* Never put a firework in a bottle, can, or other container not provided by the manufacturer. Flying debris can cause life-threatening injuries to both the operator and bystanders.
* Always read and follow instructions on all fireworks, and always have an adult present.
* Sparklers are among the most frequently used fireworks causing burns. Children under 12 need to have very close supervision. Light only one at a time, stay at least 6 feet from anyone else while using a sparkler, and never point it in the direction of another person.
According to the National Council on Fireworks Safety, sparklers account for almost 25 percent of fireworks-related injuries. Sparklers are made to throw off showers of hot sparks, and may reach temperatures exceeding 1,200 degree Fahrenheit. Over half of all sparkler-related injuries happen to children under the age of 14, according to the council.
* Obey local laws and use common sense.
With this year’s dry conditions, exercising some care when setting off fireworks becomes more important. More fires are reported in the United States on Independence Day in a typical year, with fireworks accounting for 40 percent of those fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
In 2010, fireworks caused an estimated 15,500 reported fires, including 1,100 total structure fires, 300 vehicle fires, and 14,100 outside and other fires. These fires resulted in an estimated 60 civilian injuries and $36 million in direct property damage, according to the Association.
Those using fireworks should always be aware of the direction in which they are being shot and how they are disposed, fire prevention experts say.
And in dry weather, some common-sense precautions such as keeping a garden hose or bucket of water nearby to douse any stray sparks, not shooting toward houses and cars, and launching from concrete instead of grass can go a long way.
The Leitchfield Police Department has already started receiving complaints about fireworks’ debris landing on or near cars.
For more safety tips on home fireworks use, see www.nfpa.org or the National Council on Fireworks Safety’s website at www.fireworkssafety.org.
If your taste in fireworks runs larger than what’s practical in a backyard display, there are several professional shows planned around the region on July 3 and 4, as well as the upcoming July 7 “Rumble over Rough” show at Rough River State Resort Park.
In Bowling Green, the Hot Rods baseball team will have fireworks following their July 3 game. The National Corvette Museum will be hosting Thunderfest on July 3 as well, with fireworks planned around 9 p.m. Barren River State Resort Park, southeast of Bowling Green, will hold its fireworks show at dusk on July 4.
At Bardstown, several activities are planned at My Old Kentucky Home State Park to celebrate both Independence Day and Stephen Foster’s 186th birthday. The “Stephen Foster Story” starts at 8:30 p.m. July 4, with a fireworks display following the show.
Owensboro will also see fireworks shows on two nights: 9 p.m. July 3 at Panther Creek Park, and 9 p.m. July 4 at English Park.
In Louisville, the Bats baseball team will host a fireworks show following their July 3 game. Also planned are large shows at Waterfront Park at dusk July 3 and 4.
If Independence Day’s forecasted high of 97 degrees has you planning to remain as close as possible to air conditioning, great fireworks displays will be only a click of the television remote away.
PBS and NBC will kick off the celebrations of American’s 236th birthday at 8 p.m. with their “A Capitol Fourth” and “Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks” shows, respectively.
“A Capitol Fourth,” hosted this year by Tom Bergeron, will include performances by Phillip Phillips of “American Idol,” Broadway’s Matthew Broderick and Kelli O’Hara, Josh Turner, Kool & the Gang, and the National Symphony, capped off by a 17-minute fireworks display. The show repeats at 9:30 p.m.
The Macy’s show — the nation’s largest fireworks display — will be headlined by Katy Perry and Kenny Chesney. More than 40,000 shells will be fired during the 25-minute display.
CBS will broadcast the fireworks in Boston starting at 9 p.m. Hosted by Michael Chiklis, the show will include performances by Jennifer Hudson and The Boston Pops orchestra.